Poor are giving money they don’t have to church - Councillor

The AM Show 18/07/2018

An Auckland councillor says churches in his area need to re-think the way they tithe low income residents.

Manukau Ward Councillor Efeso Collins told The AM Show some residents have been forced to take out loans to keep up with the cost of tithing, where the church takes a portion of their income for upkeep.

"They're borrowing to meet the need that is left because they're giving so much of their income to the churches," he said.

Mr Collins said the churches need to take a good hard look at themselves and think about whether they're doing right by their community.

He's been speaking to the churches about it and has even told some of them they should sell up and leave the area if they're not full on Sundays so the land can be used for housing.

"I've been challenging our churches, why are they still taking from our families when they're some of the poorest families in the city?" he said.

"Even culturally we've got to look at ourselves."

Families often end up going to exploitative payday lenders to pay their bills and Mr Collins has heard of people going door to door offering loans or charging interest of up to 800 percent.

"If you can't pay your water bills, your power bills, then you're going to have to borrow. A lot of our people go to those payday places, where you're paying two percent a day," he said.

"You might need $500, but they turn around and say 'why don't you just take $2000 instead?'."

The Government is currently looking into ways to curb exploitative lending and Mr Collins is in favour of putting a cap on the interest charged.

Watch the full interview with Efeso Collins above.

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