In his criticism of Sheffield Money in these pages, (August 21), Green Party candidate Douglas Johnson misleadingly describes the scheme as “Wonga-lite”.
This is an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of an innovative partnership between a range of providers, including a community development finance institution and credit unions, which have come together in an attempt to combat high-cost exploitative lenders.
Loans brokered by Sheffield Money will involve APRs between 12 and 89 per cent, compared with Wonga, which charges 1,509 per cent.
Sheffield Money is an ethical and affordable alternative for people trapped using high-cost credit.
As well as playing a key role in helping people to access affordable credit, Sheffield Money will also refer people on to advice services to help them out of debt.
Furthermore, a Sheffield Citizens Advice worker will attend its city centre branch.
There are more than 50,000 Sheffield residents who are reliant on exploitative payday and doorstep lenders.
Sheffield Money is expected to help 25,000 a year, collectively saving them up to £20 million in extortionate interest charges.
The Labour administration at Sheffield City Council is proud to support this initiative because we believe it will make a valuable contribution in helping people escape the lure of unscrupulous lenders in the city.
And we are delighted to see that Sheffield Money got off to a great start, with more than 250 people contacting the service in its first week of business.
On an issue of such importance, we would have hoped that all parties would be able to put politics aside and welcome the council’s attempts to help families across the city struggling with high-cost debt.
Sadly, Mr Johnson’s comments risk undermining the valuable work of Sheffield Money and serve as a reminder that the Green Party is more interested in scoring cheap party political points than getting behind an innovative solution to the problem of personal debt.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet member for public health and equality