Monthly Archives: June 2014

Lloyds backs credit unions with a £4 million package of support

ABCUL logoMatt Young, Group Corporate Affairs Director for Lloyds Banking Group, used an All Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions reception on Monday at Westminster, marking the 50th anniversary of credit unions in Britain, to define a four year plan for the Group’s £4 million investment in credit unions.

Discussing the £4m support package, Matt said: “Our overall aim is very simple. We want to enable as many people as possible to access and benefit from financial services. We see this as a key part of being a responsible business and helping Britain to prosper.”

Welcoming Lloyds support in the area of financial inclusion, the Economic Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said: “Lloyds’ support will be a welcome boost to the efforts of the credit union movement to serve even more people in their communities.”

The Credit Union Growth Plan, (the Plan), has four separate elements, and draws on some of the ways that the Group already uses to support and help grow small businesses.

  1. Launch of a £4m fund which – over four years – will assist credit unions who can demonstrate strong and viable proposals for growth. Delivered in partnership with the credit union Foundation, the fund will focus on strengthening the financial position of credit unions, enabling them to grow sustainably, build resilience and help more people in the long term.
  2. Signposting more customers to credit unions. The Group has already piloted this approach from its branches with the Leeds City Credit Union for six months and saw around 2,000 Lloyds’ customers take away information about the credit union. It is now scaling up in other parts of the country – initially working with credit unions in up to 20 locations close to employment hubs; strengthen local relationships by increasing the mentoring and support of its colleagues.
  3. Shared expertise – seconding two full time colleagues to work on the credit union Expansion Project, enabling the whole credit union sector to scale and serve more people.
  4. Collaboration / testing new approaches – it is for this reason that the Group is financing the pilot stage of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Church Credit Champions Network which will train at least 300 Credit Champions and generate at least 3,000 addition members of credit unions.

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of ABCUL, the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd, said: “As is demonstrated in countries like the US and Canada where more than 40% of people use credit unions, the British sector has great potential to provide an ethical financial option and provide healthy competition in financial services. This can be through providing an affordable and responsible alternative to payday and other high cost lenders or providing great value loans and savings without the need to pay a return to shareholders.

“The sector’s success depends upon its ability to develop an efficient and sustainable business model which is able to meet the needs of people from a range of backgrounds. This is what the DWP-funded Credit Union Expansion Project seeks to do and the Lloyds investment announced today will give this effort a further boost by accelerating sustainable growth and sharing key expertise and knowledge.”

Investment boost for Northumberland home care service

Bell View Help at Home Care Workers

Five of Bell View Help at Home’s newly appointed care workers.

A social enterprise dedicated to providing high quality home care to older people in north Northumberland has been launched with the help of a loan from Big Issue Invest.

Bell View Help at Home is a social enterprise which delivers home care with an emphasis on well-being, allowing older people to socialise with others and live successfully in their own homes.

Bell View is a registered charity which has been in operation since 1998 and runs a purpose built resource centre in Belford, Northumberland, offering care and support facilities for the elderly in the area. Now, thanks to a loan from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, Bell View has established a new Help at Home service, to provide reliable and consistent care and support to older people in their own homes.

“We wanted to deliver an innovative way of providing care for older people,” says Jane Field, Service Development Manager at Bell View. “Not like the old kind of home care, chucking breakfast in front of you and going out the door. We wanted to offer an integrated package of support to people in the community.

“Although, in many ways, a social enterprise is just like any other type of business, it can be difficult for traditional lenders to see that our aims go beyond profit, and they are sometimes wary to lend to us. That’s where Big Issue Invest came in.”

Rod Jones, Regional Director for the North East and Cumbria at Big Issue Invest, explains: “As a lender we exist to help worthwhile social businesses like Bell View Help at Home to access the funding they need to grow and develop, so that they can help more people and communities.”

Running a home care service in an area which covers 150 square miles between Alnwick and Berwick is no mean feat. Qualified carers help with everything from supermarket trips to cleaning, but older people are also offered the chance to get out of the house and join lunch clubs at Belford day centre or in participating village halls. Local volunteers help out with transport and befriending services, making it a true community enterprise.

Bell View Help at Home has been going since February, and is already delivering over 300 hours of care a week, allowing elderly people to remain independent and live more flexibly in their own communities. Those who otherwise might be housebound by chronic illness have still been able to get out and do their own shopping, while one lady uses Help at Home two days a week to give her family a break or when her other carers go on holiday.

Families are pleased, too. One customer said: “The Help at Home service is the best thing that has happened to our family. My father is like a different man.”

Rod Jones adds: “Bell View Help at Home is a revolutionary service providing real care for elderly people, allowing them to remain independent and live more flexibly in their own communities, and Big Issue Invest is pleased to have been able to help them.

“At a time when many small businesses are struggling to access finance, Big Issue Invest is here to support social businesses in the North East, be they charities, co-operatives or social enterprises like Help at Home. People can find out more at our website www.bigissueinvest.com.”