Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sea Shanty Festival in Ellesmere Port

The fourth National Sea Shanty Festival takes place at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port over the Easter weekend (18-20 April 2014).

Canal boat at Sea Shanty FestivalOver 3, 000 visitors are expected to visit the Festival during the weekend, and visitors will be able to explore the National Waterways Museum, listen to the shanty singers during the day and find out more about the seafaring traditions of the North West.

Coinciding with the Annual Boat Gathering at the museum, the Shanty UK festival brings together nearly 100 performers in seven different venues within the museum for three exciting days of singing, concerts, boat trips, museum tours, nautical poetry, puppet-making, face painting and much more.

According to Julia Batters of Shanty UK, the Festival is designed as a fun event for the whole family. Julia said: “The UK has a long tradition of sea shanties and maritime singing and our annual Festival is helping to keep this tradition alive for future generations.”
The highlight of the Festival is two concerts taking place within the museum on Friday and Saturday nights, which feature a number of acts from across the UK and Europe.

Entrance to the National Waterways Museum for the Sea Shanty Festival and Annual Boat Gathering costs £6.50 for all three days (10am – 5pm). Tickets for the evening concerts are £10 each night and can be reserved online at www.shanty.org.uk/our_festival

Credit unions welcome new bankruptcy legislation in Scotland

ABCUL – the AssoABCUL logociation of British Credit Unions – has welcomed the passing of the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament today (20 March).

The Bill – which aims to deliver a debt advice, debt management and debt relief service which is fairer to creditors and debtors alike – was passed with cross-party support at the end of a long process of consultation which Scotland’s credit unions have closely engaged with throughout.

Credit unions particularly welcome the adoption of a single common financial tool to calculate debtors’ contributions, the extension of money advice and financial education, and measures to curb the potential for unfair and inappropriate use of debt relief products.

The creation of a Financial Health Service to support people with debt problems and build financial capability across the country more widely has also been welcomed by Scotland’s credit unions.

ABCUL Scotland Policy and Relations Manager Frank McKillop said: “A credit union loan comes from other people’s savings, so the principle that people who can repay do repay is especially important to credit unions.

“We welcome the measures in this Bill which should ensure a fairer deal for creditors like credit unions, and we look forward to working with the new Financial Health Service to play our part as a safe place to save and an ethical source of affordable loans to help people from all walks of life keep in control of their finances.”

Credit Union News published

The latest edition of Credit Union News, which we have been working on for our client ABCUL, has been published. This special edition celebrates the 50th Anniversary of credit unions in Britain.

Credit Union News - March 2014

Credit Union News – March 2014

The first two credit unions – Wimbledon Credit Union and Hornsey Co-operative Credit Union – both started in April 1964, and the magazine includes an interview with two of the founder members of Hornsey Co-operative Credit Union. There is a timeline showing how the credit union sector in Britain has developed over the last 50 years and an interview with credit union activist Martin Logan, who has played a key role in helping to record the history of credit unions in this country.

There is also a look ahead to the future, with a feature on some of the “new kids on the block”: Polish Credit Union UK, Churches Mutual Credit Union and Retail Credit Union are three new credit unions taking the sector forward.

The magazine goes out to ABCUL members and many others with an interest in the credit union sector and is published three times a year. A copy of the latest issue can be downloaded from our publications page.

Credit unions welcome £1 million a year commitment from Lloyds Banking Group

ABCUL logo

ABCUL welcomes Lloyds Banking Group support for credit unions.

Lloyds Banking Group has re-emphasised its commitment to providing leadership in the area of financial inclusion by announcing its intention to provide £1 million per year to credit unions. It has also committed to support 1 in every 4 of Britain’s social banking customers.

This announcement falls during the week the Group revealed its full Helping Britain Prosper Plan where, for the first time, it revealed seven separate and significant public commitments to address some of the big issues facing Britain today.

Graham Lindsay, Director, Responsible Business for Lloyds Banking Group said: “Our Helping Britain Prosper Plan incorporates bold, public commitments to help address some of the big issues facing Britain today. It’s about putting customers and communities at the heart of everything we do. The Plan is not just for those customers enjoying relative prosperity, but also those facing financial difficulties. For this reason we believe our annual investment of £1m into Credit Unions is one of our most critical.”

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) said, “We very much welcome the package of support for the credit union sector as announced today by Lloyds Banking Group. We look forward to working with the Group to ensure this generous investment complements the work that is already taking place to strengthen the sector. The Credit Union Expansion Project will benefit greatly from the secondment of Lloyds’ experts and the expansion of the signposting scheme should help many more people access appropriate services from their local credit union.”

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “Credit unions play a vital role in helping people build up savings and have access to loans, especially those who find it difficult to have mainstream high street bank accounts. This is why we are investing £38m to help credit unions modernise and grow.

“I absolutely welcome this support from Lloyds for extra funding and I particularly welcome the commitment to send experienced banking staff to support the growing efficiency of credit unions. I hope other banks will also consider this and provide support to help local credit unions.”

Lloyds Banking Group commenced a pilot in September 2013 through 25 Lloyds and Halifax branches in the Leeds area to signpost appropriate customers to the Leeds City Credit Union and local money management charities. Over 1,000 customers to date have taken away information about these organisations.

The approach of the pilot programme, which was due to end this month, has been adopted on a permanent basis and will be expanded to a further nine UK flagship locations with the cascade of basic information becoming available through all Lloyds and Halifax branches.

Chris Smyth, Chief Executive, Leeds City Credit Union, said: “Credit Unions play a critical role. We know this from our pre-Christmas trading and coinciding with the Lloyds pilot, was 25% higher than the prior year. In this period our lending was almost £2m. This represents a terrific saving in terms of interest of £1.3m had these loans gone to a high cost lender instead.

“Our post Christmas trading during January and February is 100% up on the same period last year. We believe this is an exceptional turnaround and may indicate a serious shift in mood across our target market towards the credit union – which is great news for all.”

Lloyds Banking Group is Britain’s biggest provider of social bank accounts.