Unite, the country’s biggest union, is calling on government and the Tory party to come clean about links to payday loan companies, following the news that Wonga has recruited Jonathan Luff, a senior prime ministerial advisor on digital strategy.
The union is demanding that the Tory party and government ministers publish full details of their links to and meetings with Wonga, as well as any other payday lenders. It is also calling on prime minister David Cameron to provide assurances that payday lenders will not be granted privileged access to ministers.
Luff’s appointment follows previous revelations regarding close ties between prominent payday lending industry figures and the Tory party. This includes ministers charging £1,250 for meetings with lenders at the party’s autumn conference and Adrian Beecroft - whose firm Dawn Capital provided startup capital for Wonga - being appointed as a government advisor.
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: “This appointment raises further serious questions about the relationship between senior Tory party figures and the legal loan sharking industry. The deeply concerning impression is forming that there is a revolving door between No 10 and the legal loan sharking industry.
"It is time the government came clean on these cosy relationships and gives urgent assurances that Jonathan Luff will not be able to use his Westminster networks to lobby on behalf of Wonga.
"Legislation is urgently required to curb the rip off interest rates legal loan sharks impose to ruthlessly exploit people who are already struggling. Legal sharking is one of the few growth industries under this government; Wonga's enormous profits confirm it has benefited hugely from the austerity hit to ordinary people.
"Questions have to be asked as to whether the apparently cosy relationship between the Tory party and payday lenders is preventing the government taking action to protect the most economically vulnerable being put in place. The prime minister needs to provide cast iron guarantees he will not bow to the lobbying machine of legal loan sharks.
“We already knew that the Tories were ‘in bed’ with legal loan sharks. Government advisor Adrian Beecroft - who has recommended some of the most draconian cuts to workers rights’ in a generation - is one of Wonga’s financial backers. During the Tory party conference, ministers were charging £1,250 for face-to-face meetings with payday lenders.
“This revolving door between government and the payday loan industry is spinning and must be stopped."
For further information contact James Bevan on 07711 347 645 or Alex Flynn on 07967 665 869.
Notes to Editors:
- Independent research for Unite shows that working people are borrowing around £325 per month from pay day lenders, up a massive £125 per month since the April budget.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The union’s general secretary is Len McCluskey.