21 April 2016
Cllr Roger Lawrence
Leader, Wolverhampton Labour Group
c/o Labour Leaders Office
St Peter’s Square
In your role as Leader of the Wolverhampton Labour Group, please kindly distribute to: Cllr Peter Lowe – Leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Cllr John Reynolds, Cllr Keith Inston, Cllr Peter Bilson, Cllr Daniel Warren, Cllr Ian Angus and any other interested parties.
Thank you for your letter dated 18th April 2016, regarding the news that The Money Shop has signed a three-year agreement to become the Club’s new main sponsor from next season. We’ve also received correspondence from Rob Marris MP, Pat McFadden MP and as you know, some of your fellow Councillors from the Wolverhampton Labour Group. I would appreciate it if you could circulate this letter to your colleagues listed above. By the way, for the record please feel free to contact me personally via email, my mobile or through my PA at Molineux.
Many of the points and suggestions raised have common threads, so I’m sure you’ll understand that the contents of this letter will be shared with others. As you know, The Money Shop has been a significant and highly visible Stand Sponsor at Molineux for the last seven years. They have also been part of Wolverhampton’s High Street paying their business rates to the City of Wolverhampton Council for the last fifteen years. They are operating under a newly created and fully regulated framework providing a range of financial services which are vital for people both here in Wolverhampton and across the country.
They have 250 nationwide high street stores and have 20 outlets in the Midlands, including in Dudley, Stafford and West Bromwich, employing and serving a very significant number of local people, some of whom will be your constituents. Equally, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that from July last year, The Money Shop has been paying the National Living Wage to their staff which positively impacts many local people.
Over the last few days we have spent a lot of time speaking to supporters and members of the community from all sides of the debate. I am fully aware of the fact that this is an emotive issue and that many of these opinions are deeply held. We respect them all.
There are some fundamental points I should repeat, before I go on to outline some new steps we have taken. In addition, we’ve accelerated the process of revealing how The Money Shop and Wolves plan to work with the Club’s official charity: Wolves Community Trust. As you know, and as I have alluded, The Money Shop is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and following the appointment of their new Chief Executive Stuart Howard in 2014, have set about going above and beyond regulation to improve transparency, fairness and to try to enhance the reputation of the industry.
The company is a diversified financial services provider providing products such as travel money, pre-paid cards and a Western Union service, with regulated short-term loans just one part of their overall offering. The Money Shop has fully supported the recent announcement of the FCA levy being collected from the whole consumer credit industry to fund the Illegal Money Lending Teams in England. This is appropriate because without regulated short-term loan providers who can help consumers quickly and efficiently, an alternative route could be the unregulated, unscrupulous and, dare I say it, even dangerous parts of the loan market which should, in my opinion, be avoided at all costs.
I’d agree that there is an opportunity to promote all legitimate, and regulated choices available to consumers in the market, including community-based Credit Unions and as you’ve pointed out, I know we’ve got a good Credit Union in Wolverhampton.
The sponsorship provides a platform for The Money Shop to champion the positive changes being led by them to improve the industry; highlight the wide range of products they provide and to put something back into the local community where they employ and serve many local people. Therefore, would respectfully ask everyone who has expressed concern to judge the partnership between Wolves and The Money Shop over the course of the agreement.
As I previously mentioned, we have spent time talking and discussing this issue with a number of different people. As a result, today we have issued a statement highlighting four very important and substantial steps we have taken. Please see the enclosed Press Release. These decisions have been based on some of the feedback we have received, including your suggestion (which is also being put forward by some other local politicians) of helping to promote financially-related charities and community organisations. The financial awareness education initiative was pre-planned, we have just brought forward the announcement of this valuable project.
I am aware that The Money Shop will be inviting you to visit one of their Stores and I do hope you can spare the time to go along and learn more about the organisation and the regulated markets in which they operate. Our door is always open and so please let me know if you would like to meet me in person to discuss this matter further.
Finally, you will be fully aware the Club is up for sale. You and I, Roger, have spoken in the past and you understand the need for us to live within our means as we strive for promotion to the Premier League. You also understand we face many challenges, on many different fronts but, as much as we all may wish it were different, football today is governed by the need for constant investment in a variety of forms. With the Club being up for sale, we need the whole community of Wolverhampton to continue to get behind us and to help ensure we can keep moving forward both on and off the field while we search for a new owner. Hopefully, we will be successful and they will be able to help fund the overall aspirations of the Club and the tens of thousands of supporters around the region, the country and abroad which sees us return, and compete consistently, at the highest possible level.
Thank you for your ongoing support.