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The Archbishop of Canterbury has vowed to put payday lenders out of business by using the Church to build Britain’s network of credit unions.

Most Rev Justin Welby told Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of Wonga, of his ambition to make the controversial lenders obsolete – by helping the 500 financial cooperatives that already provide small loans to their members play a much bigger role Role in helping people with money problems.

The Church of England has already set up a credit union for its own employees to advise the other credit unions on expanding their reach.

Officials believe that the problem is not with the number of unions but with ensuring better access to them. The Church will allow them to use their buildings and schools, and encourage Church members with the right expertise to volunteer for them.

The archbishop, a former manager of the oil industry and a member of the parliamentary commission on banking standards, has pointed out that the church has 16,000 branches in 9,000 parishes – more than the banks. In an interview with Total Politics magazine, he said: “I met the boss at Wonga and we had a very good conversation and I said to him very bluntly: ‘We are not in the business of destroying you, we are trying to get you out of it To suppress existence. ‘ He’s a businessman, he received that well. “

The Archbishop added, “We need credit unions that are both involved in their communities and much more professional, and thirdly, people need to know about them. It’s a decade-long process.

“We put our money where our mouth is, we’re starting a Church of England credit union. You need to have an advocacy group to determine who is a member of the credit union. We’re starting one of them, so we’re getting involved. We work with the major trading organizations for the credit unions all the time. “

Wonga insisted that she would welcome competition from credit unions. Mr. Damelin said: “The Archbishop is clearly an extraordinary person and someone who understands the power of innovation. We talked about the future of banking and financial services, as well as our nascent digital society. There is mutual respect, some different opinions and a meeting. ”With a lot of big issues in mind. When it comes to competition, we always welcome new approaches that offer people broader alternatives to solving their financial challenges. I am in favor of better consumer choice. “

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills is providing £ 35 million over 10 years to help credit unions grow and ease the regulatory burden on them.

In the interview, the archbishop criticized the conservative ministers for trying to drive a wedge between “scroungers” in social benefits and “nerds” at work. He said, “The rhetoric is very harmful.

“Of course, some people are scroungers, some multimillionaires are squiggles, you can find people who behave wrongly, badly, maliciously, across the entire spectrum of the social spectrum. It has nothing to do with welfare, I mean, thank God we looked at the banking system last year. “

He added, “We shouldn’t stereotype people in a certain category as scroungers, that’s not the right way to talk about people.”

He revealed that he was considering getting into politics but admitted, “It didn’t work out really well because I couldn’t decide which side to go with. That’s probably why I ended up as a clergyman, as you said earlier, sitting on the fence. “

The archbishop also suggested that the church prepare for further clerical sexual abuse scandals. When asked if it had gone through the worst revelations, he replied, “No. We are not … We have been wrong for many years when society saw these things differently … there will be cases, some 40, 50 years ago, where people have been overlooked and ignored. “He said it was” totally inexcusable “and admitted that he expected that” there will be more to come. “

He indicated that the Church could take inspiration from the royal family. “Absolute genius. If you could bottle it, there wouldn’t be a government in the world that wouldn’t buy it. It is not a manipulation. It’s a real, deeply thoughtful, extremely humble, determined realization that the world has changed and a response to it in many ways. They are probably more popular than ever. “


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