Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (3rd July 2013) welcomed the announcement by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that he was leading the Church of England in a crusade against the high interest pay day lending industry, and would be putting the national resources of the Church into backing credit unions as an alternative to these lenders.
Welby, who has previous financial experience and sat on the Parliamentary Commission that examined banking practice in the UK recently announced that the Church of England will be promoting credit unions as a credible alternative to the booming £2bn payday lending industry, and says it will help match often vulnerable, low-income borrowers with the most appropriate lenders. He is proposing that credit unions be allowed to use church halls and other properties so to provide better access for customers.
“This is good news and shows the conscience of the Church in backing real financial need in our community. What he has said is consistent with church values – after all, in the New Testament Jesus chased the money lenders out of the Temple of Jerusalem!
“I know that he has been heavily influenced by the plight of poor communities in the North East from his time as the Bishop of Durham. He is spot-on in arguing that locally run and managed credit unions can be a real alternative to high-street and internet payday lenders, who target often very vulnerable borrowers with expensive loans at staggering rates of interest.
“I will be following this up by writing to local churches in my constituency to ask them to follow the Archbishop’s call by opening up their doors and offering their churches as a base for local credit unions and by urging their congregations to spread the word that there is an alternative to being ripped off by the kind of firms that promote ‘instant loans’ without saying how much these loans can end up costing borrowers.”