In the week of doorstep lender Provident Financial's Annual General Meeting, Christian campaigners have taken to the street in the company's hometown of Bradford to tell the public and staff that their profits are based on extortionate lending.
Campaigners say that Provident, or the 'Provi' as they are better known, gives expensive loans to people who have few credit options.
A typical £300 loan requires weekly repayments to a collector totalling 495, of which nearly £50 is clear profit. Making these loans to their nearly 1.5 million customers is a very profitable business ñ they made an average of over £95 profit from each customer last year, for the simple service of providing loans to those on a low-income, say campaigners.
Christians will be leafleting in Bradford city centre this Friday before going on to picket Providentís headquarters.
Rev Chris Howson, a member of the Bradford Church Action on Poverty group, said: ìProvidentís profits dwarf some of the Governmentís programmes. Providentís profits are excessive, which is financially beneficial to the shareholders and directors, but devastating to the estates and communities that are drained of millions of pounds every year.î
He continued: ìIn the last month the Competition Commission have found what millions of low-income borrowers already know: Provident are over-charging us and the law needs to change to stop them getting away with it. The Commission has been bold enough to state that each customer is being overcharged £26 because the market isn't working. Despite overwhelming international evidence the Government has gone out of their way to discredit the idea of statutory interest rate ceilings. The Competition Commission has reluctantly proposed a legal rate cap as a remedy, but we need to keep the pressure on to show that people at the grassroots believe that this is the best way to stop extortionate credit.î
Christians have recently staged a number of demonstrations against those making excessive profits.
Debt on Our Doorstep picketed the retail chain BrightHouse in February for charging 'pernicious' prices for consumer goods, from home entertainment systems to kitchen appliances.