ADD YOUR VOICE FOR A FAIRER FINANCIAL SYSTEM
The change that we need in our society and our financial system will not be easy, and will not happen overnight. It requires action at every level over a sustained period of time. This means that Christians and churches have a responsibility not just to get involved at a local level but also to call for the Government and other key power-holders to play their part.
This 'prophetic' action for justice has always been a key role for the Church, either on its own or in alliance with other faith and non-faith organisations. Below are a number of opportunities to do exactly that, playing our role in speaking out for a more just financial system that serves everyone.
ACT NOW: SUPPORT A NEW COMMUNITY FINANCE FUND
Many different politicians, commentators and analysts all agree on one thing – the UK’s financial system isn’t working well. The financial crisis, the rise of payday lending, Libor and PPI – the scandals keep on coming, and yet nothing fundamental seems to change.
It doesn’t have to be like this. In many other countries around the world there is a thriving community finance sector, with credit unions and social enterprises serving millions of people. A recent report supported by RBS identified a huge unmet need for community finance from individuals, charities and businesses in the UK who are unable to access affordable loans from the big banks – an estimated 8 million individuals and 100,000 small businesses.
#TOYOURCREDIT is helping the Church to play it’s part in boosting community finance. But we can’t do it alone. We need systemic change as well as grass roots initiatives to make the huge change that is needed in how we manage finance in our society. How could this happen in an age of austerity and cuts? By using the misdeeds of the banks and the payday lenders to help create a fairer financial system.
The official regulator of the financial sector, the Financial Conduct Authority, collects hundreds of millions of pounds each year from banks and other financial organisations that have broken the law. At the moment this money goes straight into the Treasury. But Citizens UK, Europe's largest civil society alliance, is proposing that £200m of these fines should be used to endow a Community Finance Fund.
This Fund would be used to support the growth of credit unions and other community finance organisations in the UK, through modernising the credit union sector, increasing the pool of capital available for business and personal lending, developing new ways to finance social enterprises, and building strong partnerships between the community finance sector and civil society (churches, charities, housing associations, and local government). This could easily represent the single largest investment in community finance in the UK’s history, all without costing the British taxpayer a penny.
Citizens UK asked each of the three main political parties to pledge their support for the Community Finance Fund at a special General Election Assembly on the 4th May 2015. But we need your help now to spread the message amongst MPs and build support across the major political parties.
Please visit writetothem.com, type in your postcode to find your MP, then use the following message in an email or letter to them (feel free to personalise it as much as you like). Remember to share your support for the Community Finance Fund on social media using the #TOYOURCREDIT hashtag, and encourage others to support this campaign.
Dear [insert name of MP],
The UK’s financial system isn’t working. With 10 million payday loans taken out last year, and scandal after scandal at the mainstream banks, it’s time for a fundamental change.
It doesn’t have to be like this. In many other countries around the world there is a thriving community finance sector, with credit unions and social enterprises serving millions of people. In Britain research by RBS found a potential market for community finance of over 8 million individuals and over 100,000 businesses, a world away from the current position of less than 2% of the population being served by credit unions and CDFIs.
Inspired by Archbishop Justin Welby, the Church is stepping up to play its part in supporting community finance at a grass roots level. But we can’t do it alone. We need systemic change as well as bottom-up initiatives to make the huge change that is needed in how we manage money in our society. How could this happen in an age of austerity and cuts? By using the misdeeds of the banks and the payday lenders to right the systemic wrongs they represent.
The regulator of the financial sector, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is collecting hundreds of millions of pounds each year from banks and other financial organisations that break the law. At the moment this money just goes straight into the Treasury. Citizens UK, Europe’s largest civil society alliance, is proposing that £200m of these fines be used to endow a Community Finance Foundation.This Fund would be used to sustainably support and catalyse community finance in the UK - through the continued modernisation of the credit union sector, the piloting and development of new forms of social enterprise finance and a range of innovative civil society-community finance partnerships.
This could easily represent the single largest investment in community finance in the UK’s history, all without costing the British taxpayer a penny.
So will you pledge your support for the Community Finance Fund, and speak to your colleagues about it to gain their support too? Citizens UK asked each of the Prime Ministerial candidates to officially support the Community Finance Fund at a special General Election Assembly on the 4th May 2015. But we need your help now to make spread the message amongst MPs and build support across the political parties.
I look forward to hearing from you.
UPDATE: PROTECT CHILDREN FROM PAYDAY LOAN ADVERTISING
Children are routinely exposed to adverts for payday loan companies, whose high-interest loans are harming significant numbers of families, making their already difficult financial situation worse. The Children’s Society – through its Debt Trap campaign – is calling for payday loan companies to be banned from broadcasting TV and radio adverts before 9pm.
Update 27th November 2014: The Government has now launched two investigations into payday loan marketing: one into the scheduling of payday loan adverts; and another into the use of unsolicited marketing calls, texts and emails to promote payday loans.
Following the launch of the Playday not Payday report, The Children's Society have been working closely with members of the House of Lords to amend the Consumer Rights Bill and ensure children are better protected from inappropriate payday loan marketing.
The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice will now be extending their current consultation on payday loan advertising content to include the scheduling and frequency of these adverts with a specific view of ensuring children are protected.
As well as this, the Financial Conduct Authority have now committed to consulting on the use of unsolicited marketing calls by payday loan companies which will specifically include looking at our recommendation that these calls should be banned.
This is a considerable step forward for our campaign. But we need to keep up the pressure to ensure the advertising watchdogs take action.
The Debt Trap continues. We know families face a daily battle to pay the bills, meet housing costs, and find money for food and other basics. We’ll keep campaigning to end the damage debt does to children.