THE Bishop of Bolton has backed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plans to offer money advice in church.

Bishop Chris Edmondson has been a leading advocate for the use of credit unions to stop people turning to pay-day loan shops when they fall on hard times.

He said the launch of the Church Credit Champions Network, which will see religious leaders train up to offer financial advice and use church buildings to help customers with new accounts, was a good idea.

The scheme will start in three pilot areas initially — the diocese of London, Southwark and Liverpool.

The Bishop said: “I’m very supportive of credit unions like Hoot in Bolton as a trustworthy alternative to the pay-day lenders that charge obscene amounts of interest, and what’s happening in the Church of England is very much in line with that.

“We will be watching very closely what the pilot scheme achieves, and whether we can make even more of a contribution by being part of the network.

“The idea is to partner with the credit unions, not to replace them, and as faith communities we are already working very closely together.”

Cllr Kate Lewis, Bolton Council’s newly elected member for social inclusion, applauded the fact that the Church of England has consistently spoken out against pay-day lenders.

Before Christmas she petitioned against the proliferation of the “quick cash” shops in the town centre and to make people aware of the pitfalls of taking out a loan with them.

She said: “The only way to stop people using pay-day loan companies is to provide a real alternative, and I think it does work when different organisations provide different things.

“Credit unions are a genuine alternative to banks, for people who want to borrow or save ethically.

“I think government needs to play a role to — until credit unions are promoted, and people realise they are a safe place to put their money into.”