Church of Scotland criticises payday lenders

The Church of Scotland has asked MPs to take action to curb high cost credit.

The Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Kirk's Church and Society Council made the appeal in a letter sent to all Scottish MPs ahead of a debate in the House of Commons today.

The High Cost Credit Bill has its second reading in the Commons today. It provides for the regulation of high-cost credit arrangements and controls on advertising.

The Church of Scotland is critical of the extortionate interest rates charged by payday lenders, with the 2012 General Assembly calling for a legally binding maximum interest rate for all kinds of consumer credit, to be set initially at an APR of 40%.

It notes that the Money Advice Trust reports receiving over 20,000 calls for help with payday loans in the last year.

In her letter, Ms Foster-Fulton urged MPs to support the Bill.

"The economics of our society is badly wrong. Payday lenders who levy extortionate charges and rates are exploiting the most vulnerable," she said.

"We need alternatives for affordable credit for people on lower incomes, as well as a fundamental reform of our current economic system. After the financial crisis many people said that we could not return to business as usual. Ensuring that reasonable and responsible financial services are available to everyone, especially the most marginalised, is essential.

"The Church of Scotland is on the side of the most vulnerable in society because we believe that there is a Gospel bias to the poor."