Thinking Anglicans

Church of England and payday lenders – update

I reported on this on Friday here, and there are two links to articles in yesterday’s opinion.

Press reports have referred to the Church of England’s “pension fund”. There are in fact two clergy pensions funds. For service prior to 1998 clergy pensions are paid by the Church Commissioners from their assets. More recent service is financed by the Church of England Pensions Board. It may not be clear from many of the press reports, but the indirect investment in Wonga is held by the Church Commissioners, and not by the Pensions Board. Both bodies take advice from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Channel 4 News has this helpful FactCheck: What else does the Church of England invest in?.

Many more articles have appeared in the last couple of days. Here are some.

The Guardian
Rupert Neate Justin Welby says Wonga revelations will not divert him
William Taylor The church must be an activist: fight for the poor and expose the corrupt
Marina Hyde I’ve got a crush on the archbishop of Canterbury

The Telegraph
Cole Moreton Justin Welby’s Wonga revelation
Jenny McCartney Archbishop Justin Welby is on the money over Wonga

Financial Times
Sharlene Goff and Brooke Masters Archbishop orders inquiry into Wonga funding

The Independent
Editorial Payday lenders? The Church should keep to matters spiritual
Simon Read Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby rows back on war on Wonga: ‘Loan sharks are worse’
Ian Birrell Politics and religion do mix well after all

BBC Radio 4
There was a discussion on ethical investments in this morning’s Sunday programme, starting at 38 minutes.

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Jenny Reiddr.primroseInterested ObserverMarc Kivelcjcjc Recent comment authors
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Doug Chaplin

I see the Indy has contracted its unsigned leaders out to the National Secular Society again.

It’s also fascinating to see a paper with a daily circulation of under 100,000 says that Welby shouldn’t comment as the leader of a minority faith.

Peter Owen

Bishop Nick Baines has responded to the Independent’s editorial.

Simon Sarmiento

The next day, the Sunday version of the Independent published this article by a former deputy editor, Ian Birrell, which takes a slightly different line


Even with the new higher 43% APR cap on credit union interest rates they will not be able to compete with Wonga et al. in the payday loan market.
Welby, the investment in Wonga embarrassment aside, really needs to do his research before sounding off.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer

The alternative to regulated payday lenders is not Christian charity or genteel poverty. The alternative to regulated payday lenders is unregulated loansharks. It is that simple. Wonga have many failings, but the case against them is not enhanced by implying that they are in the same category as loansharks, or that people would be better off (or, at least, no worse off) borrow in the unregulated market. Better people not borrow money they can’t afford, but if they are going to anyway, better Wonga than loansharks. As cjcjc points out, if Credit Unions are constrained to a 43% APR then… Read more »

Marc Kivel
Marc Kivel

As an American Episcopalian I’m impressed that the ++ABC has decided to take on the payday lenders and I wish him every blessing in this effort. I heartily support credit unions, but I question whether a “low” 43% APR cap on credit union loans is the best that can be done for the working “cash poor” of England. An alternative model, not much known in general society, is the “Gemach” institution within the Jewish community. “Gemach” is an abbreviation for Gemilut Chasidim, the obligation to lend without interest to members of one’s community when they are in need. The institution… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer

“An alternative model, not much known in general society, is the “Gemach” institution within the Jewish community. “Gemach” is an abbreviation for Gemilut Chasidim, the obligation to lend without interest to members of one’s community when they are in need.” That presumes that a “community” contains a mixture of people who have money and people who don’t, that the former see the latter as deserving of help and the latter see the former as deserving of being paid back. All of that is untested and highly unlikely to be, in general, true. There may be circumstances in which it might… Read more »


In 1992, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles established The Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union – – as an economic justice ministry to provide small loans to those who could not qualify for loans from banks. A couple of squibs from the home page: “The Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union is an Economic Justice Ministry within the Diocese of Los Angeles. ‘Those who have, helping those who have not.’ “Originally funded by a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development in 1992, the Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles provides financial services in a professional, personal environment. “The… Read more »

Jenny Reid
Jenny Reid

With payday loan companies experiencing a 50% default on repayments, the charges from a Credit Union would have to be quite:high and there would be problems enforcing repayments from people who llve permanently on the breadline. The Archbishop of York’s charity “Actx 4 35” seems a much neater solution to me: those with money to spare can make a gift to someone in difficult circumstances and there is the opportunity too to offer ongoing help and support. Much better than having to ask for the money to be repaid later and a generous solution which reflects the good news of… Read more »