Churches call for an end to 'credit slavery'

This week, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of GreatBritain and the United Reformed Church have called for transparencyin money-lending and greater protection for borrowers.

In a submission to the Office of Fair Trading, the Churches assertthat money-lenders must give borrowers all the informationnecessary to make a sensible decision about borrowing.

The submission also criticises the practice of credit dependency,also known as 'credit slavery'. The Churches assert that lendersshould only lend money if a borrower can pay both the interest andthe loan amount within a reasonable timescale.

Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said, "This is anissue that Methodists have been concerned about since before weknew we were Methodists."

The first Methodist building run by the Wesleys was called theFoundry, as it was the old military cannon works in Woolwich. Theupstairs was used for meetings and worship, the downstairs was aloan dispensary to help people to escape exploitative and violentmoneylenders.

"Debt and exploitative lending are just as much a problem today asthey were in the early days of Methodism. Poverty often means thatpeople come to loans companies in a situation of urgent need andare willing to accept exploitative rates of interest. Borrowersshould be treated with dignity and respect, and their lives mustnot be crippled by the need to service unpayable debts."