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The Archbishop and the payday lenders

02 August 2013


From the Revd Paul Nicolson

Sir, - In Who Runs this Place, Anthony Sampson reflected in 2004 on the changes that have taken place since 1965 (when he wrote The Anatomy of Britain): "Most people of great wealth show a remarkable lack of interest in using their money to improve the lives of others. Above all, they feel much less need to account for their wealth, whether to society, to governments or to God. Their attitudes and values are not seriously challenged by politicians, by academics or the media, who have become more dependent on them. The respect now shown for wealth and money-making, rather than for professional conduct and moral values, has been the most fundamental change in Britain over four decades."

Since 2004, the people of great wealth seem to have drifted even further away from understanding or caring about the financial hardship of 20 per cent of their relatively powerless fellow British citizens. An unregulated free market in money-lending flooding a housing market in short supply with easy money was a big factor in lifting house and land prices. It evolved into the 2008 crisis and created the Wonga problem.

High interest charged against the already low incomes means massive bills against inadequate incomes already hit by cuts and caps, and rent and council-tax arrears. The problem of money-lending, which is wider than, but includes, Wonga and other lenders, needs governmental action, and cannot be solved by parishes' running credit unions.

Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BF

From the Revd Larry Wright

Sir, - As the Archbishop of Canterbury has pointed out, credit unions are more ethical, accountable, and economical, when compared with the likes of Wonga.

As a member of our local credit union - which had its first office in our church until moving to the local shopping centre - I commend other advantages of membership. Credit unions will open accounts for people unlikely to be accepted by the main high-street banks; members may have their benefits paid into their account; they provide free budgeting advice, and regularly visit our local church school to encourage families to save; and, over time, staff and members build up a relationship that is mutually supportive.

In economically deprived areas, such as ours, our credit union is a financial lifeline with a human face.

100 Bridge Street West
Birmingham B19 2YX

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