News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

UK News

Has the Church won the 'War on Wonga'?

by Cara Bentley

The company announced on Thursday morning that they were no longer accepting applications for loans but would continue to serve existing companies. However, by Thursday evening Wonga revealed they had filed for administration. 

The news will put 500 jobs at risk and corporate undertakers at Grant Thornton have been appointed to carry out the administration.

Wonga and similar lenders have long been criticised by the church, most notably five years ago when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced the church would compete Wonga out of business by supporting what they saw as more ethical credit unions - declaring not to simply lambaste Wonga but to become their moral rival. 

As part of that vision, the Just Finance Foundation was set up with Archbishop Justin as their President; an organisation which aims to provide responsible credit options to all through education about banking and debt but also by supplying fair financial services themselves. 

Working with the Just Finance Foundation, James Henderson is the Development Worker for Transforming Communities Together in the Black Country and Staffordshire - who work with churches to do social action, including debt counselling and preparing people for universal credit. 

He told Premier how he felt about the end of Wonga loans: "I think it's actually good news on people with low incomes. In 2014, the financial conduct authority found that Wonga's debt collection practises were unfair and I think that's been really hard on people with low incomes who've had no choice but to take out pay day loans."

When asked why the church think payday loan companies are wrong he said: "It's the amount of interest that they charge. So, they would argue that they just lend to people for a very short term but what was happening is that those debts kept rolling over and over and people got into really levels of debt that they just couldn't afford to pay pack because the interest rates were just so, so high."

Henderson added why it should be a Christian concern specifically: "Jesus talks more about money in the Bible second only to the Kingdom. So, if it's something that Jesus talks about so much, it's definitely something that churches should be talking about. And we see that day to day across the Black Country where churches are really supporting people in financial hardship."

One way in which many churches are practically trying to improve the financial stability of people who need help is through credit unions. 

Henderson explained how they work: "A credit union is a much different model so it's actually owned by it's members so it's more of a co-operative model and they charge lower rates of interest than Wonga did and they're really good at helping people to save as well, which is really important. So, lots of the people that we're working with - that's the first time that they've been able to save because their local credit union has encouraged them to do so. "

You can listen to the full interview with James Henderson and Cara Bentley on Premier's News Hour here:

For more information about what Christians are doing to improve financial stability, listen to this extended report on The War on Wonga - Five Years On:

Stay up to date with the latest news stories from a Christian perspective. Sign up to our daily newsletter and receive more stories like this straight to your inbox every morning.

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email