Archbishop appoints Sir Hector Sants to chair financial task group

The Archbishop of Canterbury previously told the payday lender Wonga that the Church of England wanted to "compete" it out of existence as part of its plans to expand credit unions as an alternative to payday lenders(PA)

The former Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority and head of compliance and regulatory affairs for Barclays Bank, Sir Hector Sants, will chair the Church of England's new task group on credit unions.

The task group has been formed by Archbishop Justin Welby, who recently attacked unscrupulous loan companies for their behaviour and was outraged when it was discovered soon after that the Church of England's pension fund had a £75,000 investment in Accel Partners, a company which acts as a financial backer for British payday loan company Wonga.

The Archbishop met with Errol Damelin, the founder and Chief Executive of Wonga, and spoke of his plans to advocate alternative borrowing schemes, declaring that the Church is "not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we're trying to compete you out of existence". He promised the use of church buildings for credit unions and his unyielding support for systems that are fairer to borrowers.

He has stayed true to his word, promoting the use of credit unions and encouraging Christians to invest in alternative borrowing schemes to ensure more people have access to local, ethical and affordable financial services.

The new task group, which will meet for the first time at the end of January, will develop this ongoing support and encourage responsible lending and saving. It will also work "with the wider financial sector to build support for more competitive and community-based financial services", according to the Church of England.

Joining Sir Sants, who has been described as "a truly outstanding public servant of great integrity" by former FSA Chairman Lord Turner , will be the Bishops of Stepney and Hull, representatives from the credit union movement, and senior members of the banking and regulatory sectors.

It is not the first time the former Barclay's executive has decided to use his wealth of banking experience for the common good. Upon his appointment within the FSA, Sir Sants wrote: "As a Christian, I feel strongly that in the latter part of one's career, it is important to give back to the community."

Now, in response to his new role within the task group, which will be on a voluntary basis of one day a month, Sants has spoken of the "cultural change" needed within the banking sector.

"Archbishop Justin's work on the Banking Standards Commission, and his determination to follow through by mobilising the Church of England's commitment to the common good and its local presence across the country, is an inspiration to many," he said.

"I am delighted that I am able to support him in this very tangible and exciting project."

The Archbishop welcomed Sir Sants to the role, saying: "There are few people in today's financial sector who have Sir Hector Sant's breadth and depth of experience and outstanding reputation.

"I am enormously grateful and pleased that he has accepted my invitation to lead the church's imitative to work with the credit unions to help serve all the people of this country better and to contribute to developing a more transparent and competitive system focussed on serving the needs of everyone."