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Primate’s war with Wonga fuels credit unions interest
AN OXFORD credit union has said it has seen a surge in interest since the Archbishop of Canterbury urged people to invest and declared war on pay day loan firm Wonga.
It comes after two of Oxfordshire’s spiritual leaders put invested money in Oxford Credit Union.
The Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, and the Rt Rev Colin Fletcher, the Bishop of Dorchester, put in the cash yesterday as part of International Credit Union Day.
Both bishops were at the Cowley credit union to open accounts with their own money.
Richard Josephs, manager of the credit union, said that since the Archbishop of Canterbury began publicising credit unions in the summer, there had been an increase in the number of people applying to use their services.
In July, the Most Rev Justin Welby announced it was his dream to “compete” Wonga out of existence while vowing to help grow Britain’s credit unions whose lending rates are a far cry from the 5,853 per cent rate offered by the controversial pay day lender.
Mr Josephs said: “There have definitely been more people coming in to set up accounts and making appointments for loans. “We are grateful for the publicity as we are still reliant on grants and donations and we are keen to raise awareness.”
Yesterday was International Credit Union Day and bishops up and down the UK pledged their support for unions – institutions set up to offer low-interest loans, savings schemes and financial services. Bishop John said: “Credit unions are a positive and ethical alternative to pay day lenders.
“I hope more people will turn to them for short-term loans rather than end up in a debilitating cycle of debt by borrowing from loan sharks. “I would urge churches and Christians to invest in, to volunteer for and help publicise their credit union.”
He added: “When it came to light in the summer that the Church Commissioners had an investment in Accel Partners, and that they had a small stake in Wonga, the Archbishop of Canterbury immediately asked the Assets Committee of the Church Commissioners to investigate how this had occurred, and to review the holding in this pooled investment vehicle. “The Church Commissioners are reviewing the whole portfolio in the light of this incident.” Oxford Credit Union, based in Cowley, was established in 2006 and now has more than 1,000 members.
It has been given permission by the Financial Services Authority to expand across Oxfordshire and has been in talks about merging with Blackbird Leys Credit Union.
Credit unions are owned and controlled by members and provide credit at a competitive rate to people unable to get it elsewhere. All profit is returned to members.
Bishop Colin said: “Churches and individual Christians have a strong record of involvement with credit unions over many years.
“ I’m delighted that the archbishop has drawn attention to the need to grow this provision.”
- For more information visit oxfordcreditunion.co.uk or call 01865 777757.
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