In view of the Church of England's decision to withdraw from all connections with pay day lending firm Wonga, can the Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement please say what action KCC has taken to withdraw from all connections with such firms, to issue consumer advice to our own staff and report on the performance of KCC supported alternative products.
Firstly I am able to say that the Council has no investments with organisations such as Wonga who prey on those in society who are most vulnerable.
Mrs Dean will be aware that the Council has been a key supporter and, more importantly, funder of the Kent Savers credit union which was established 5 years ago. This is a very tangible way of addressing financial exclusion in the community. Kent Savers has issued loans of over £1.3m in total in this time. With the support of the Church they have recently established a sub branch in Murston and this is particularly welcome as it addresses wider issues of advice and support. We hope that further sub branches will open.
We are keen to see other bodies in the county such as the Church, District Councils and Housing Associations play their full part in making Kent Savers financially viable in the long term. It is our intention to meet up with these bodies with a view to helping Kent Savers grow and thus provide a service to the vulnerable. In doing this we must always be aware of the risks involved.
We are also working with Kent Savers to make KCC staff aware of their services.