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Archbishop of Canterbury backs rap track attacking payday lenders


“Now he’s in debt, got a payday loan, Interest rate’s higher than the money he owes”. The Church of England has endorsed a rap single which warns young people about the perils of payday lenders.

“We Need a Union on the Streets”, released today, was inspired by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s call for responsible lending, during an attack on companies which he accused of “usury”.

Charles Bailey, a community organiser and record producer, who previously released “Tony Benn’s greatest hits”, a compilation of the late politician’s speeches set to ambient grooves, wrote the song with collaborators Question Musiq and Delilah.

The track features an introduction by Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com, who intones: “Payday loans gone wrong are a horrendous thing… It explodes; it’s all about compound interest.”

The Church of England gave its backing to the song, which sets to music its own concerns that young people, attracted by the promise of instant cash, are particularly vulnerable to payday lending.

Members of the Archbishops’ Task Force on Credit Unions agreed to appear alongside the musicians at the launch of the single at All Saints Church in Peckham.

The song tells the stories of young people who get into debt because of payday loans with high interest rates.

Although it does not criticise payday lenders by name, the lyrics argue “It should be illegal, the money they earn,” and insists: “They don’t care, The rich get richer, While poor get less”.

The song aims to highlight credit unions, which charge less interest and encourage saving, as a better way to borrow.

Dr Elizabeth Henry, the Church’s Adviser for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, said she was “thrilled” that Bailey was using his “creative gifts to support the Church of England’s response to the very real problems of payday lending.”

Dr Henry said: “Efforts like this help the Church to extend its reach and engage with people on issues that affect their everyday lives. The song is appealing and I hope will get the message across to all communities that credit unions are a much safer way to borrow.”

Bailey said: “When I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking out about payday lenders I felt moved to do something to help his task group to reach to the urban youth who are often the victims and introduce them to a much safer and ethical way of borrowing through credit unions.”

Martin Lewis added: “We’ve all heard the cases of those who just wanted a couple of hundred quid but quickly owe many times that. Yet that still doesn’t do the job; the ease of access and ability to just press a button and get cash is so powerful, we need to shout, or in this case even sing, from the rooftops about the dangers of this type of borrowing, to try and counter the message.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group is developing initiatives to promote responsible credit and savings, including lobbying for more effective regulation of the payday loan industry and policies that will help to promote credit unions as a responsible alternative.

The song can be heard and downloaded for free here