Did you know that the Credit Union is a democratically-owned co-operative, which follows a set of social objectives as well as financial ones?
Run by and for its members on the basis of self-help, the Credit Union has no outside shareholders. This means the money we make is reinvested into the business to provide fair and affordable financial services for our community.
Our primary objective is to encourage people to save for the future as a way of avoiding the risks of problem debt. At times when our members need to borrow, or when they are struggling to meet the high cost of existing borrowing, the Credit Union offers low cost Saver Loans that reduce the cost of borrowing to manageable levels.
In line with our co-operative profit-sharing principles, this year we paid a 3% rebate on loan interest paid, helping to reduce the cost of borrowing for our members.
We also provide guidance and support with budgeting and dealing with debt, and over time we see most of our members move from being borrowers to being savers, greatly improving family finances. The number of visits to the money management page of our website continues to increase, using the trusted ‘Money Helper’ guides from the Money Advice & Pensions Service.
Credit Union President Helen Baron said: “As a co-operative, we are committed to wider social goals beyond maximising short term profit and shareholder value. Whilst we need to trade at a profit to meet our running costs, the way we run our business and distribute any surplus makes us stand out as ethically different.
“Our co-operative values and principles set us apart as a more democratic and fair type of business. In addition, our wider social goals contribute towards the alleviation of poverty within the community as well as to the economic regeneration of the community.”
Our social impact
A number of years ago, financial analysts from a leading City banking institution made an assessment of the social and financial impact of the Credit Union’s lending business.
They researched all of our first-time borrowers over the preceding three months, and analysed where they had previously been borrowing and at what cost. From this they were then able to determine that for every £1 a member saves with us, and that we then lend to displace existing high-cost debt, our members will save £1.25 each year in interest, bank charges and fees.
During 2020-21 we issued loans to the value of £5,182,000 to our members, 13% ahead of the previous year. Based on this formula, our members are estimated to have saved over £6,000,000 in interest by transferring high-cost debts to the Credit Union. Over the next few years, we forecast a financial benefit to our members, and the wider community, in excess of £100 million!