Thursday, July 25, 2013

Church of England credit unions to take on Wonga

A bold initiative from the Church of England? Perhaps there is a God after all.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, mentioned his plan for C of E credit unions in an interview with Total Politics:
A plan for the church to develop credit unions has been floated, with Welby proud that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is” in developing an alternative to payday money-lenders. The plan, he says, is to create “credit unions that are both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.” 
It will, he adds, be a “decade-long process”, but Welby is ready for the battle with the payday giants. “I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.” He flashes that smile again. “He’s a businessman; he took that well.”
To an extent the archbishop is banging is crook against an open door. The government announced a year ago, in the face of concerns about payday lenders, that credit unions were to receive up to £38m to help them expand. And those lenders were recently warned of tougher rules and a possible ban on advertising if they do not start to act more responsibly.

But it is good to see the C of E taking up its social responsibility in this way. In many communities the church is now the only public building left.

And if nothing else, it may stop it talking about sex all the time.

Vince Cable has already backed the plan, and I am pleased to see support for it on Twitter from our party's self-styled 'economic liberals'. Sometimes it can be hard to see how their views go beyond support for the interests of the big corporations.


Alisdair Calder McGregor said...

Speaking as one of the Party's self-styled economic Liberals, I thoroughly welcome any increase in competition in the payday loans sector, as it can only serve to increase customer choice and reduce consumer costs.

We should also look at streamlining the regulatory mess around payday loans to reduce the overheads to all such lenders - overheads which the companies simply pass on to the customers and thereby serve to increase interest costs to them.

David Cox said...

Speaking as one of the Party's Distributist Liberals, I thoroughly welcome this.