Credit Unions unveiled
THE CHURCH of England has launched the first credit unions this week in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘war on Wonga’.
In this first step towards a national network of churches, communities and credit unions, called The Church Credit Champions Network, three pilot schemes have been launched in the Dioceses of Southwark, Liverpool and London.
The launch is supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Lending.
The launch took place in the St Martin’s Hall at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Central London, with a keynote address by Sir Hector Sants, former Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority and Head of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs for Barclays Bank.
Sir Hector convenes the Archbishop’s Task Group, and has said the Church has a role in promoting responsible lending.
The event was chaired by the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, who has a long track record in advocating credit unions and who is leading the campaign in the Diocese of London.
The network is the first tangible response in the fight against payday lenders, which the Archbishop publicly slammed, before embarrassing revelations found that the Church Commissioners had some shares in Wonga.
It is hoped these centres will offer a real alternative to online lenders with extortionate interest rates, despite Archbishop Justin Welby admitting previously that the ‘Church is not an expert in this area’.
The sustainability of the CCCNs has been questioned by some, as research has shown lenders need to charge over 80 per cent interest to make money.
The Archbishop hopes the partnerships they have formed will ensure the scheme works.
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