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  1. National

Payday lenders 'must focus on customer welfare'

Citizens Advice's chief executive Gillian Guy said payday lenders must focus on customer welfare, not profits, after Wonga released strong figures today.

Payday lenders' profits come directly from the pockets of consumers, many of whom turn to them out of desperation rather than choice.

The payday loans industry must focus on boosting customer welfare, rather than boosting profits at the expense of hard-pressed householders who struggle to pay back unaffordable loans.

Our evidence shows persistent, deep-rooted problems with the way payday lenders treat their customers, so we want to see lenders’ focus shift from increasing profits even further to looking at how they can tackle their customers’ complaints and become more responsible lenders.

Consumers are already bombarded with glossy payday loan adverts which mask the misery of a life in debt. We want people to fight back and report irresponsible and misleading adverts as well as fighting irresponsible lenders.

– Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice

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  1. National

Church 'committed' to credit union but not before 2014

The Church of England said it was "committed to exploring" a credit union scheme but warned it would not be in place until 2014 at the earliest.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he wanted to compete Wonga out of business by developing the Church's own credit business.

The Church of England is committed to exploring the potential of credit unions.

As part of that process we are supporting the dedicated group of church members who are working with the Church of Scotland towards establishing the Churches Mutual Credit Union.

The process is necessarily detailed and it is unlikely to be established before Autumn 2014 at the earliest but this is one of many initiatives at a local and national level which shows the Church responding to need in a time of austerity.

– A Church of England spokesperson
  1. National

Wonga profits surge as customer numbers swell

Payday lender Wonga has reported surging profits as its number of customers swelled to more than one million.

  • Profits after tax rose 36% to £62.5 million during 2012 - the equivalent of more than £1 million a week.
  • Revenues surged 67% to £309.3 million.
  • The controversial online lender lent £1.2 billion in the year, a rise of 68%.

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Cisse agrees to wear Wonga branded shirt

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse has agreed to wear the club's Wonga branded shirt Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse has reportedly agreed to wear a shirt which bears the club's primary sponsor Wonga.

The Senegal international had refused to wear the jersey displaying the pay-day lender's logo on religious grounds, as earning interest is forbidden by Islamic Law. The 28-year-old even pulled out of the club's pre-season tour of Portugal over the issue.

However, it's understood that after weeks of negotiations the club and Cisse have reached a resolution, with the player finally agreeing to wear the shirt.

FANS' ANGER AT NEWCASTLE WONGA DEAL

Newcastle United's new sponsors Wonga have announced they will rename the club's stadium St James' Park.

Today the football club announced a new four year deal which will see the internet loan company become the club's lead commercial sponsor.

Wonga also secured the naming rights to the stadium, currently known as the Sports Direct Arena, and will reinstate the old name of St James' Park.

But the decision was met with anger on Tyneside with council leaders and MPs expressing reservations with the deal.

"It's a clever move and clearly has been done in part to deflect some of the criticism of the business they have agreed the sponsorship with.

The fans will be over the moon that the name will be back to what it's always been.

But there will be mixed emotions on the subject as it's a sad indictment of today's society that a company like that is doing so well."

– Fanzine editor Mark Jensen, from www.themag.co.uk

"I'm appalled and sickened that they would sign a deal with a legal loan shark.

I fear the long term social consequences of the decision and I will be writing to Mike Ashley and asking for him to fund the extra debt advice that we will need to provide as a result.

Newcastle United is a role model for thousands of people so what they do matters.

It sets the tone for the city and I don't want this to be a city built on an image of cheap and irresponsible debt."

– Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council

We are building a club that can regularly compete for top honours at the highest level.

As everyone knows, a strong commercial programme is vital to this goal and I am delighted to welcome Wonga into the fold as our lead commercial partner, alongside Puma and Sports Direct.

Throughout our discussions Wonga's desire to help us invest in our young playing talent, the local community and new fan initiatives really impressed us and stood them apart from other candidates."

– Derek Llambias, Managing Director of Newcastle United,
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