Former anti-payday loan campaigner joins Wonga as PR head

Delroy Corinaldi announced that he would be leaving debt charity StepChange last year, to pursue "new challenges in finance"

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The Independent Online

A former anti-payday lending campaigner and senior member of staff at a debt advice charity has taken a job with controversial loan company Wonga, as its head of PR.

Delroy Corinaldi worked as director of external affairs at StepChange Debt Charity for four years. The organisation, previously known as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, has given free advice to people in debt for two decades.

In a statement on the charity’s website when he announced his resignation in August, Mr Corinaldi said that he would be pursuing “new challenges in finance”.

“We’ve seen through some big and important changes in the organisation - including an active participation in important debates around debt and personal finance. 

“After four years I’m considering some exciting new challenges in finance, but I will always be passionate about the importance of achieving a society free from problem debt as I continue pro bono work for the Financial Inclusion Centre,” he said in a statement at the time.

But in March it emerged that Mr Corinaldi had accepted a job at the loan company, despite StepChange previously calling Wonga “controversial”, and criticising Jonathan Luff, former senior adviser to David Cameron, for joining Wonga in 2012, citing that the Office of Fair Trading had censured Wonga for employing “aggressive and misleading” debt collection practices.

In his previous position at the charity, Mr Corinaldi also issued a number of statements warning against the use of payday loans.

Mr Corinaldi has since said that Wonga is “at the forefront of efforts to lend responsibly” and joining the firm “feels like the right move after my time at StepChange,” according to The Times

“What really attracted me to the role is that the senior management team at Wonga know there is more to do,” he added.

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The criticism that payday lenders, including Wonga, have been under was brought to the fore by StepChange in February, when it revealed there had been an 82 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help after taking out loans.

The charity dealt with 66,557 people who sought help because of payday loan problems in 2013. The previous year the figure had been just 36,413.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange, said of the figures: “The widespread harm and misery caused by payday loans continue unabated. The industry has failed to address the problems causing untold misery and damage to financially vulnerable consumers across the UK.”

As payday lending use has increased, politicians, campaign groups, and religious leaders have all expressed their concern that the firms exploit the vulnerable, and impose unreasonably high interest rates on their customers.

A Wonga spokesman told Money Marketing when Mr Corinaldi’s role was announced that: “At this key time for our business, which under a new chief executive officer is preparing for the transfer of consumer credit to the FCA, we are keen to ensure that the voice of our customers is made clear while engaging proactively with the wider community.

“Delroy’s extensive knowledge of personal finance and debt issues together with his passion for the consumer will be invaluable. Delroy will head up a team of three and report into Henry Raine, our head of UK regulatory.”