The Archbishop of Canterbury's Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings

Promoting Responsible Credit and Saving
July 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to our bi-monthly email newsletter on the Archbishop of Canterbury's initiative to promote credit unions and other sources of responsible credit and savings.

This month we feature the Murston Community Bank - a church based credit union branch in Kent, as well as covering the speech that the Archbishop gave at a recent reception for credit unions.

Since the last update we are delighted to announce that Lloyds Bank have committed to funding the pilot stage of the Church Credit Champions Network in Southwark, London and Liverpool. We're also able to update you on some of the initiatives we featured in May: our meeting in Birmingham for dioceses and a music video highlighting the dangers of  payday loans.

Polly Taylor
Task Group Coordinator


Murston 'Community Bank'

A recently retired couple with banking experience, a generous gift from a local builder and the prayers and determination of a small congregation have been the key ingredients in the launch of Murston Community Bank.
All Saints Church, Murston is a small congregation of around 30 people, in an area where there are significant levels of need.  However the church has a committed core of willing and active volunteers who have, with support from the Diocese of Canterbury and the enthusiasm of Rev Lesley Jones (pictured in the vestry 'bank' with churchwarden Phil Bromwich and Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover), set up Murston Community Bank,  the first branch of Kent Savers credit union. Along with a community café and local information service this is open every morning Monday to Friday.

Rev Lesley Jones says, “We opened the bank as so many people told us that it was difficult to save, that times were tough and that more often than not they turned to payday lenders for short term loans at high interest rates.”
Churchwardens Christine and Phil Bromwich brought their experience of working in banks to the initiative and were also able to help the credit union, Kent Savers  think about how to set up a ‘branch’ -  a new venture for the credit union as well as the church.
The vestry was identified as the perfect spot for the ‘branch’ but needed some work to make it fit for purpose. Around this time a local builder  phoned Rev Lesley Jones to offer to do some work for the church to mark his family's links to the parish. He was soon put to work building a ‘counter’ for the bank and bookshelves for the café.
Installing broadband means that they can access savers' credit union accounts in order to process withdrawals on the day, and offer free internet access to people coming in for a coffee in the café.
The community bank has been good for the community, the church and the credit union:
Since opening  the church has found that local people coming into the café and branch have many different needs, and through a partnership with over 20 different organisations from Citizens Advice to the local police, volunteers are able to signpost and make referrals to the most appropriate sources of help, whether that’s a new fridge, debt advice or a food parcel. Future plans include helping the local junior school set up a credit union branch for young savers and encouraging people to open a Christmas savings account.
The credit union have also benefited from the initiative.  In the 6 months since Murston Community Bank opened Kent Savers have seen their deposits double to £1m, largely due to publicity generated by the partnership with All Saints Church.
Opening the building has also had an impact on the life of the church in a number of ways; there has been a dramatic  rise in the number of baptism inquiries, the opportunity for new contacts and a new sense of hope for the future.
The Bishop of Dover, the Right Revd Trevor Willmott, visiting the church as part of a day in the deanery said,  “This is God’s love in action – serving and witnessing– a Christian community showing the love of Jesus. The church is being built up by this activity of serving others”.
Churchwarden Phil Bromwich gives this advice to other churches thinking about working with a local credit union, “Opening a credit union branch might not be right for every church, maybe you can just open an information point. Think about the needs in your parish and do something bold. Pray about it a lot but go for it.”
Follow Murston Community Bank on Facebook: or Twitter
If you would like to visit Murston and find out more about the Community Bank please contact Caroline Pinchbeck at Canterbury Diocese,, 01227 459401.

In a recent speech to the Credit Union Foundation Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the Church's activity to support credit unions over the last year and acknowledged 'all those in the credit union movement, for whom this has long been a labour of love.' He spoke about the developing work of the Task Group, including the opportunity to have an impact on children's attitude to money through financial education, and the Church Credit Champions Network, as well as the promotion of credit unions,  regulation of the consumer credit market and  the possibility of partnerships with the banking sector.
Payday Lending; Fixing a Broken Market is a new report from The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants looking at the payday lending business model and the role of regulation and innovation in finding a more responsible way to meet the demands of consumers.
In June Westminster Abbey hosted a celebration of  50 years of credit unions in Great Britain.
Credit unions have been providing their members with financial services  since 1964.  There are now nearly 400 in Britain which together provide responsible savings and loans to over 1 million people and look after over £1 billion in assets.
To mark the anniversary the Economic Secretary to the Treasury has launched a call for evidence on the future of the credit union sector.
The Financial Conduct Authority has recently  issued new regulations for the consumer credit market and this month announces their proposals for a price cap on high-cost, short -term credit. To be introduced January 2015.
70 people gathered in Birmingham to hear about the work of the Archbishop's Task Group and the Church Credit Champions Network, and to share ideas and initiatives from around the country.

If you weren't able to attend you can watch:

David McCullogh - Southwell and Notts
Anthony Speca - Chichester
Alison Peacock - Manchester
Lesley Jones - Canterbury

'We need a union of the streets' is a song and music video produced by Charles Bailey and featuring rapper Question Musiq. Highlighting the dangers of payday loans it promotes credit unions as an alternative, and has so far received over 6000 hits on YouTube and SoundCloud!
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