The Archbishop of York has thrown his support behind a new community bank in Hexham, Northumberland.
On 6 November, the Archbishop Dr John Sentamu opened Tynedale Community Bank, which was established to give local people easy access to their cash, stop them taking loans from payday lenders and offer them a safe place to store their cash.
All profits will go back into the local community.
Local supporters include Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman.
“People want a community lender based in their community,” he said. “I am absolutely certain once we are properly up and running that large numbers of people will make the decision that some or all of their money should be in our organisation rather than a large multinational bank based far away.
“Why would you want to bank with a casino bank in Frankfurt or Shanghai or London when you could trust your money to a community bank?”
Dr Sentamu’s endorsement follows on from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s support of financial co-operatives – in an effort to, in his words, “compete Wonga out of existence”.
In 2013, Justin Welby criticised Wonga for pushing vulnerable people into debt by offering loans with extremely high interest rates. When it emerged that the Church had in fact invested money into Wonga, he admitted it was “very embarrassing”. The ties with Wonga were eventually cut and the Church established its own credit union, the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU).
The Tynedale Community Bank has support across the political parties in the area. As well as Mr Opperman, the Labour MP for North Durham Kevan Jones has voiced his support.
He said: “People tend to look at rural areas and think there is no poverty there, but there is financial poverty in these communities. That’s why a bank like this can make such a difference.”