Church of England mulls organising buyout of Wonga’s loan book, source says

Sep 16, 2018 by

By Press Association, via Premier.

The Church of England is said to be considering co-ordinating an effort to find a group of buyers for the loan book of failed pay day lender Wonga to prevent it falling into the hands of unscrupulous loan sharks.

A source close to the matter said it was highly unlikely the church would be directly involved in the purchase of Wonga’s estimated £400 million book.

Instead, it would work to bring a consortium of non-government organisations and philanthropists to organise a buyout, the source said, but that any plan was in a “very preliminary stage”.

The news comes a week after independent MP Frank Field called on Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asking him to find “good people” to buy Wonga’s loan book.

Existing borrowers are thought to total around 200,000, and Mr Field said he feared they could be left at the mercy of money lenders and bailiffs who could purchase the debt at a knockdown price.

In a letter to the archbishop, he said: “Is there a possibility please of you asking the Church Commissioners quickly to assemble a consortium of good people with money who will attempt to buy those poor people’s loan books at a knockdown price?”

He said swift action by the church would stop a new lender “terrorising” the poor and would be “an example of the jubilee in setting slaves free of their debts”.

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