Bishop of Bolton joins Bolton's credit union as church contuinues war on payday loans
THE Bishop of Bolton became a member of a Bolton credit union as the Church of England intensified its opposition to payday loan companies.
The Right Rev Chris Edmondson was one of 41 bishops to sign up with an “ethical and trustworthy” alternative to firms such as Wonga yesterday when he visited Hoot Credit Union in Ashburner Street, in the town centre, as part of International Credit Union Day.
Hoot also welcomed Ed Miliband’s pledge to tax payday lenders such as Wonga and channel the money to the credit unions instead.
Bishop Edmondson met Hoot’s chairman, Steve Bottrill, to discuss how churches can support the credit union.
Earlier this year the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, expressed concern about the social and emotional burden of debt caused by payday lending. Mr Miliband pledged that Labour, if elected in 2015, would recoup an extra £20 million from payday lenders through extra taxation, which would be invested in credit unions.
Mr Bottrill said: “We always welcome any form of help and support from central government to our services ahead of those provided by payday loans is a terrific development.”
The Bishop said: “As a Christian, one of the things at the heart of our faith is social justice and human flourishing, which is why we want to promote credit unions.
“The importance of these places can be seen by the sheer number of people coming through the door.”
Chris Canham, Hoot’s acting assistant manager, said the support of the church will help promote their work to more people in the community.
On the threat posed by payday loan companies, Hoot director Brian Herrity said: “The immediacy of their money is something we struggle to compete with, but once you’re registered with us it is a quick process to get subsequent finance.
“A ban on too many consecutive days of debt and interest accumulation, as well as a cap on loan profits at £20, would force many payday lenders to close.”
Mr Bottrill added: “We are funded by the community and want people to remember that we offer the same securities as high street banks on savings.
“People will be, indirectly, investing their savings into the community they live in, as we can lend them out.”
The Diocese of Manchester is carrying out a survey to discover how many of its churches already offer services to credit unions. Bishop Edmondson will raise the prospect of multi-faith support for credit unions at the next faith leaders’ forum in December.
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