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Reform Magazine | April 27, 2017

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Invest in Justice

Invest in Justice

Affordable credit is changing the world. John Ellis urges Reform readers to join the movement

The recent meeting of the United Reformed Church General Assembly passed 50 resolutions. Only a few of them might change the world, but one that has more chance than most concerned the participation of the URC in the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU).

Assembly members who had read David Barclay’s article in Reform (‘Credit where credit’s due’, July/August) would have been well briefed on the wider context of financial exclusion – the difficulty households with low or erratic incomes face when needing short-term loans. Since the financial crash of 2008 to 2009, the high street banks have had to be much more restrictive in their lending to those they rate as high risk, and the gap in the market has mainly been filled by firms with questionable ethics and dramatically high interest rates.

In some communities, credit unions provide a good alternative. They can provide help at times of financial hardship by simple processes and at clear, low interest rates. The pattern is well established in some other countries. In many British communities, however, credit unions do not exist or are struggling to find adequate leadership or financial stability. A lively new contribution to addressing the issue is the CMCU.

The idea for the CMCU crystallised when, frustrated by the ethics of high-interest lenders, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that he would like to compete the likes of Wonga out of existence. Much detailed work was required to develop a national Church-based credit union within existing banking regulations. …

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This is an extract from the September 2016 edition of Reform.

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