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Swansea minister joins campaign against payday lenders

A Baptist minister is set to play a key role in the campaign against payday lenders.

The Revd Chris Lewis, the minister at Mount Zion Baptist Chapel in Bonymaen, east Swansea has been invited to join the national strategy group of Sharkstoppers, which is campaigning for a law to be introduced that will cap the level of interest on payday loans, as well as supporting the promotion of credit unions as fair alternatives.

Sharkstoppers is supported by the grassroots campaigning organisation Movement for Change and is active in UK towns and cities from Dundee in the north to Southampton.

Chris was first invited to join his local campaign Credyd Teg Bae Abertawe/Swansea Bay Fair Credit as his ministry is an area targeted by doorstep and payday lenders.

Members of the group will be meeting with the new Financial Control Authority at Canary Wharf and hope to organise consultations between the FCA and people in the English Regions, Scotland and Wales experiencing stress because of high interest loans.

Others issues in sight are lenders’ practices such as inadequate credit checks, rolling over loans and HP arrangements, advertising during children’s programmes and commission based collections by doorstep lenders leading to the harassment of borrowers.

Key members of the Swansea Group have also been involved in discussions with the Welsh Government, and took their concerns to the Welsh Assembly this week, meeting First Minister Carwyn Jones, and Swansea West Assembly Member Julie James (pictured).

There is growing support for the Swansea campaign from churches and the Rt. Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea & Brecon became the campaign’s first champion in September.

Chris said, ‘We have been greatly encouraged by the support we have received and the wins we have made so far but there is much still to do. Our morale is high locally and nationally.’

A Christian response to the rise of payday lenders, such as Wonga, has received much coverage after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby encouraged churches to support the development of real lending alternatives, such as credit unions.
Baptist Times, 13/09/2013
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