Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network

26 November 2015 by The Centre for Theology and Community in Education, Debt and Financial Wellbeing.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby, commissioned more than 50 Church Credit Champions, at a special Evensong at St George-in-the-East, Shadwell.

The first phase of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s project to help local churches engage with issues of credit and debt is on course to secure benefits worth over £2 million for local communities.

The figure came as Archbishop Justin Welby commissioned volunteers from churches across London, Southwark and Liverpool Dioceses who are taking part in the pilot phase of the Church Credit Champions Network.

It is estimated that this activity will generate a social return of around £7.50 for every £1 invested in the programme, largely through reduced interest payments as people use low-cost credit unions rather than payday and other high-interest companies.

The Network is in the process of training 300 ‘champions’ who are volunteers from local churches. They help people in their churches to think about and take action to tackle issues to do with credit, debt and money in their local area. Churches have carried out mass sign-ups to credit unions, set up branches in church buildings, volunteered as board members, and encouraged local employers to set up payroll saving for their staff. The programme is on target to bring in 3,000 new credit union members from the pilot phase.

Archbishop Justin Welby commissioned more than 50 Church Credit Champions, at a special Evensong at St George-in-the-East, Shadwell, in London, yesterday. Archbishop Justin said: “Those of you who are being commissioned have heard God’s call, as the whole church has in a new way in recent years, to be a church of the poor for the poor, to seek justice and the common good for all in our society. You have set up credit union access points in your churches, brought new people onto the boards of local credit unions, supported people struggling with debt through signposting them to debt advice resources. You have seen the need, and you have met it with love, grace and hope.”

Churches have been at the centre of the campaign to introduce a cap on the total cost of credit to limit the amount that payday lenders could charge – something which finally came into force in January 2015. But as the Archbishop himself has said, regulation alone is not enough. So churches are now building on the necessary changes at the legislative and regulatory level by making sure that people have access to better alternatives and to free, high-quality, debt advice when needed.

The Archbishop set up the Task Group on Responsible Credit and Saving in 2013 under former City regulator Hector Sants. The Church Credit Champions Network is one of several projects of the task group which are highlighted on The Archbishop is commissioning the first group of Credit Champions at a service of Evening Prayer at St George-in-the-East in Shadwell on Tuesday 29th September.

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