Monday, 20 December 2010

Boris Johnson takes New Year's Wonga from loans company

"SOMETIMES YOU NEED SOME EXTRA CASH..." Photo taken by Diamond Geezer on the DLR
Not content with sending out JP Morgan's press releases for them Boris Johnson has now decided to take sponsorship from a high interest "short term loans" company over New Year's Eve.

Wonga.com confirmed to me today that they are sponsoring free New Year's travel and their posters are apparently already being posted across the TfL network.

Now I know sponsorship is hard to find, but should the Mayor really be encouraging London's most desperate and needy to get themselves into even more debt over the Christmas period?

And how does this tie in with the Conservative party's pledge to "tackle Britains' debt culture"?


-Update- Green Party Assembly Member Jenny Jones said today:

"The Mayor of London must understand promoting 2689% borrowing is stupid and dangerous. Reducing public debt, by promoting private debt is irresponsible politics. We live in an age where personal debt is an all time high and it is the money men who are profiteering from the excess. This is giving a platform to a loan company just as Londoners are hit by the January blues, when bills arrive and cash is short."

Martin at Mayorwatch has a statement from TfL

Diamond Geezer kindly sent me the picture above taken on the DLR.


-Update- (21 Dec) Boris was on LBC today with James O'Brien where he seemed mighty confused about the issue saying that Wonga's interest rates were "extortionate" whilst claiming that it was "perfectly acceptable" for him to promote them...

O'Brien – There is concern about your choice of Wonga as a key sponsor for TFL over Christmas and New Year. Ken Livingstone has had his abacus out and has calculated a 2689% APR rate on their loans and he suggests it is not very wise of  you are selling their advertising on the buses and tubes?’

Boris – Well they’re are legitimate outfit and they are licensed to trade in this city, and if they want to sponsor, reduce cost of travel in London then that seems to me to be something that is perfectly acceptable. But what I would say and I would stress this, people should be aware of the extortionate rates of interest that they can charge and people should not enter into irrational or unwise debt obligations...

O'Brien– But you appreciate seeing it on side of bus or tube can actually camouflage what you have just described as extortion?

Boris – Well as I have said I think it is very important that people are aware of the massive downside of getting exposed to debt on this scale and I will lose no opportunity to make that point...

I think that opportunity has already been lost Boris.

10 comments:

Helen said...

I saw no posters on the Tube last week and there's nothing on the TfL Christmas holiday period travel information leaflet, nor does the Mayor's official New Year's Eve site ("travel information post event will be available on this site from early December" - er, it's not 20 December and not a sausage)mention it.

It must've been a last-minute deal when Boris and Ritterband met one of the owners at a party, I reckon.

AdamB said...

TfL's response (see link above) is er brief. Can't believe no-one saw this one coming.

Interesting that they haven't press released the sponsorship though as usual.

ian-ir said...

Thanks for this post. More proof that they want the debt cycle to keep growing and growing.

AdamB said...

Labour MP Stella Creasy who has been campaigning on this issue has written a letter to Boris asking him to think again.

Anonymous said...

This so called Coalition alone is going to create a nation in debt,you only have to look at what they have done to university tuition fee's.Next year there is going to be thousands of people trying to make ends meet so Wonga Com will probably be onto a right good earner.

Ken Livingstone (press release) said...

"It’s hard to think of a clearer demonstration of the values of today’s Tory party than Boris Johnson’s decision to sell prime time advertising space on London’s buses and tubes to a loan company known for charging 2689% APR.

'While millions enter Christmas and the New Year with concerns over their jobs and family finances, our Conservative Mayor is busy plastering the capital with adverts for loans companies who profit from increasing the debts of the poorest in society."

stuart graham said...

Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Yeah, sure. That'll be £289, please.

AdamB said...

Story now in The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/dec/21/boris-johndon-advertising-deal-wonga-com?CMP=twt_gu

diamond geezer said...

So far, TfL seem to have been careful to give Wonga no publicity at all. They're not mentioned in any of TfL's posters about free travel on NYE, nor in the official leaflet, nor even in today's half page in the Metro.

There are lots of flashy Wonga NYE posters on stations and trains, but they look like Wonga paid for them themselves. Or at least I hope they did...

AdamB said...

Yes interesting isn't it? I think maybe an FOI request is in order on that one.

Also it does seem a strange decision for both TfL and Wonga. They have had nothing but bad publicity from it so far.