Category Archives: Credit unions

Local banking still very much alive in Scotland

ABCUL Scotland dev stage03Following the sad news that Airdrie Savings Bank is to close, the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) has pointed to Scotland’s thriving credit union sector as evidence that local banking is still very much alive and well.

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Across Scotland, almost 100 credit unions are providing savings accounts and affordable loans to more than 387,000 people. Last year, the sector’s deposits, lending and assets all grew by 8%, and Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe.

“Of course, credit unions must keep pace with what consumers expect from their financial service providers, which increasingly means instant access and control of our money via mobile devices.

“For smaller players like credit unions, the infrastructure to deliver this is often out of reach unless we act together to achieve the required scale. That’s why a number of credit unions in Scotland and across Britain are working co-operatively to develop and deliver the products, services and access channels that modern consumers expect.

“This way, credit unions can ensure a competitive, sustainable local banking option is always open to Scottish consumers as part of a healthy, diverse financial services sector.”

The latest figures from the Bank of England (as at 30 June 2016) show there are 99 credit unions in Scotland serving more than 387,000 people, including 56,000 junior savers. Credit union members have savings worth £484 million and are borrowing £296 million, often at lower interest rates than are available for the same loan from other lenders. The Scottish credit union sector’s assets are worth £562 million.

With 7.2% of the Scottish population using a credit union, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe, after only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland.

International recognition for Islington Council and London Capital Credit Union

Islington Council and London Capital Credit Union recognised

Islington Council’s work in support of its local credit union is to gain international recognition as it hosts a group of senior managers from Singapore this week.

Richard Watts from Islington Borough CouncilThe group from the Singapore National Co-operative Federation will be greeted by the Leader of Islington Council, Councillor Richard Watts, at Islington Town Hall, before visiting the offices of the credit union in Archway.

The delegation will meet with representatives from Islington Council and London Capital Credit Union at the Town Hall and will hear how the council has supported London Capital Credit Union to become the success it now is and how this benefits residents across the borough.

The group will then visit the credit union to speak directly with members and staff about the credit union’s mission and the way it encourages saving and responsible lending to residents in Islington and beyond.

Cllr Watts said: “These are difficult times for hard pressed families in Islington and beyond, as many people deal with the rising cost of living.

“Multiple loans from payday lenders are a pathway to deeper poverty, and the council has taken action to support residents to avoid getting into problem debt.

“Part of this work has been to support London Capital Credit Union, as an accessible and affordable way for people to deal with their finances.

“I am very pleased to be supporting this organisation and the excellent work it does in Islington, and I look forward to meeting our colleagues from Singapore.”

Islington Council supports The London Capital Credit Union Ltd with a one-off grant of £250,000 and annual revenue support funding of £25,000.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “Credit unions are an ethical alternative to banks and other high street lenders and their way of working is designed to benefit all members.

“We are always pleased to be able to share our knowledge with others around the world and we look forward to meeting the delegation from Singapore and welcoming them to London, and to Islington in particular.”

Credit unions in Britain have been growing consistently over the past few years as they become better known and they now have almost 1.3 million members across the country.

Added Martin Groombridge: “Over the last ten years, London Capital Credit Union has seen a huge 1,400% increase in members’ savings from £436,000 to over £6 million. And as a co-operative, we are proud that London Capital Credit Union is owned and controlled by its members – not outside shareholders.”

Find out more at www.credit-union.coop.

Haringey resident says join your credit union to support your community

Sue HoyleA member of London Capital Credit Union is calling on Haringey residents to join their local credit union to help strengthen the local community.

“Unlike high street banks, credit unions are owned by local people and work for their best interests,” says Sue Hoyle.

Sue, a former care worker, has been a member of London Capital Credit Union for 20 years and says that credit unions are such a good idea that more people should know about them.

“I believe passionately in our local community and debt is a serious issue for many people. Credit unions can be part of the solution as they keep more of the money in the local community with local people.”

Credit unions work by offering loans on affordable terms to local members and the interest raised is then made available to lend to more people locally.

“I joined London Capital Credit Union to get a loan and thanks to the way the loan was structured, I was saving at the same time as paying the loan back.”

Encouraging saving and greater financial awareness is key to the way credit unions work. Says Sue, “I had a 0% transfer credit card some years back and paid back the minimum balance by standing order each month, but basically it was like giving them money for nothing as I was mainly paying off interest, so I used my credit union loan to pay off the credit card.”

Over the years Sue says she has saved a fair amount of interest by using the credit union and has used the savings to pay for car repairs and even a holiday.

“I am just one person,” says Sue, “but, across Haringey, local people have saved over £2.9 million in loan repayments by being members of the credit union. That’s something to shout about.”

Scottish Government backs call for workplace savings

ABCUL Scotland logo ABCUL – the Association of British Credit Unions Limited – has welcomed the Scottish Government’s backing in its campaign to make access to credit union savings and loans a standard workplace benefit.

A new report – “Scotland’s Credit Unions: Investing in our Future” – published on 10 February outlines the Scottish Government’s support for making payroll deduction partnerships between employers and credit unions as popular in Scotland as it is in other countries like the United States.

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “It’s no coincidence that the world’s most successful credit union movements have close links with employers, making saving and repaying affordable loans really easy for people via payroll deduction.

“We’re delighted that the Scottish Government has responded to our call to make access to credit unions a standard workplace benefit, and we look forward to Scotland becoming a Credit Union Nation where employees, businesses and the wider economy all benefit from a more financially healthy population.”

The First Minister of Scotland Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP has written a letter to employers highlighting the benefits of working with credit unions.

Nicola Sturgeon writes: “The Scottish Government recognises the valuable role played by credit unions in building financial health by providing financial services and products to a wide range of customers.

“So I am urging employers across Scotland to get in touch with a credit union to explore establishing a payroll deduction relationship with a view to improving financial health and boosting the productivity of Scotland’s businesses.”

There are over 100 credit unions in Scotland serving 375,000 people who are saving £454 million and borrowing £276 million.

The Scottish Government report can be read here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/02/4045/0

 

London Capital Credit Union commits to London Living Wage

One of London’s largest member-owned financial businesses has become a London Living Wage employer to demonstrate its commitment to its employees.

The London Living Wage award marks the continuing commitment by London Capital Credit Union in Archway, where, regardless of whether they are permanent employees, third-party contractors or suppliers, everyone receives a minimum hourly wage of £9.40 – significantly higher than the current national minimum wage of £6.70.

The London Living Wage is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Greater London Authority. It covers all boroughs in Greater London. The UK Living Wage for outside of London is currently £8.25 per hour. The UK rate is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Felix Hebblethwaite, a director at London Capital Credit Union

Felix Hebblethwaite, is a director at London Capital Credit Union

Felix Hebblethwaite, a director at London Capital Credit Union, said: “A key principle of the co-operative movement – of which credit unions are a part – is to champion the sustainable development of the communities in which we operate. At LCCU we believe that paying our employees appropriately is an important step forward in achieving this objective.”

Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. The Living Wage enjoys cross party support, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Living Wage Foundation Director Sarah Vero said: “We are delighted to welcome London Capital Credit Union to the Living Wage movement as an accredited employer.

“The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage now. The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.

Added Felix Hebblethwaite: “We are proud to be a London Living Wage employer and we would encourage other employers within London to do the same.”

Find out more about London Capital Credit Union at www.credit-union.coop. Find out more about the Living Wage at www.livingwage.org.uk.

Credit unions join forces to serve military personnel

The Ministry of Defence has made it possible for three of the UK’s leading credit unions to join forces and make simple savings accounts and loans available to the Armed Forces and their families.

Johnson Beharry VC joining London Mutual Credit Union

Johnson Beharry VC joining London Mutual Credit Union

The arrangement means that Armed Forces personnel will be able to save regularly or repay loans with a credit union via payroll deduction. Family members and retired personnel in receipt of a pension are also eligible to join.

The launch of this service is being marked with a celebration at the head office of the Royal British Legion in London on Thursday 15 October, which is International Credit Union Day.

A new website – www.joiningforcescu.co.uk – is also being launched with details of the services offered to Armed Forces personnel by the three credit unions and links to join.

Over the years, Armed Forces personnel have reported difficulties accessing credit because their job involves moving regularly and it can be challenging to build a good credit rating. For this reason, some personnel have reported being actively targeted by high cost lenders.

The appetite to facilitate regular saving and affordable borrowing for Forces personnel saw the Government exploring payroll deduction partnerships with credit unions, and following an application process, three of Britain’s largest and most successful credit unions – Plane Saver Credit Union, Police Credit Union and London Mutual Credit Union – have been selected to offer this service to Forces personnel.

Police Credit Union Chief Executive Peter Evans said: “The three credit unions are honoured to offer our services to Armed Forces personnel, and it is a great example of credit unions working co-operatively with each other and with the Ministry of Defence to deliver a service to the men and women of the Armed Forces.

“Joining a credit union gives military personnel access to regular savings and affordable credit with a financial services provider that understands their job and their lifestyle. Our credit unions can help them stay on top of their finances and steer clear of high cost lenders.”

Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans Mark Lancaster MP said: “I’m delighted that credit union services will today be available to Armed Forces personnel. It is crucial that those service people who work so hard to keep Britain safe, both at home and abroad, can access easy and affordable ways to save and borrow.

“This helps to tackle an issue that has caused disadvantage and disappointment to some service members.”

One of the first people to join a credit union under the new arrangement is Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC. Lance Sergeant Beharry – who became the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross since 1969 for saving the lives of his comrades in Iraq – has joined London Mutual Credit Union.

Johnson Beharry VC said: “I am pleased to join London Mutual Credit Union and I look forward to spreading the word about this new scheme for military personnel. It is often difficult for people in the Armed Forces to gain access to financial services, especially those serving overseas who have little or no way of getting credit in the UK. By joining a credit union, Armed Forces personnel will be able to access affordable loans when they need them and to plan for the future by saving directly from their pay packets through payroll deduction.”

Internationally, credit unions have a proven record of providing services to Armed Forces personnel. The largest credit union in the world, Navy Federal Credit Union, has offered savings, loans and a range of financial products to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families since 1933. Today, the credit union has around 5.7 million members across America and assets of $70 billion.

Stay up to date with all the very latest news via www.twitter.com/JoiningForcesCU.

Credit union calls for volunteers to help with soaring demand

London Capital Credit Union logoLondon Capital Credit Union is looking for volunteers in the run up to Christmas as it deals with rocketing demand for its services. The credit union saw membership increase by 10% in September alone.

This follows a recent call by Sir Hector Sants, the former Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority, who now heads up the Church of England’s taskforce on credit unions, asking people with a professional background to consider volunteering for a credit union or standing for election to the board, in order that credit unions can benefit from a wide range of expertise and ability.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, says: “We are experiencing a high level of demand for our services at the moment, and this is likely to increase further in the run up to Christmas – our busiest time of year. So we are looking for people with a wide range of skills to donate some of their time to help us.”

As financial co-operatives, credit unions are owned and controlled by their members and rely on local volunteers to help deliver their services to the community. “Our volunteers get involved with the day-to-day running of the credit union,” explains Martin Groombridge. “Duties include customer services, handling phone enquiries, processing membership applications, helping to maintain our database and working on marketing materials.”

Sir Hector also called for more people to deposit money with a credit union – money which can then be lent out at an affordable rate of interest to help those in need. Those who save with a credit union then qualify for a share in the profits of the credit union in the form of an annual dividend.

Sir Hector’s comments came as the Church of England rolls out its programme to provide financial support through its new Credit Champions network across 2,000 churches. The initiative encourages church congregations to promote saving as an alternative to borrowing and to raise awareness of the role of credit unions in providing low cost loans in times of need. London Capital Credit Union is working with a number of churches across North London as part of the scheme.

Five Star Fairbanking Mark for London Capital Credit Union

The Fairbanking Foundation – the not-for-profit charity dedicated to encouraging banking institutions to improve the financial well-being of their customers – has awarded its first Mark certifications to credit unions, with London Capital Credit Union receiving 5 stars for its personal loan products.

London Capital Credit Union had to demonstrate that its personal loan customers have experienced a tangible positive impact on their financial wellbeing from using their products.

Martin Groombridge

Martin Groombridge, Chief executive of London Capital Credit Union

Speaking about the award of the 5 star mark, Martin Groombridge, CEO, London Capital Credit Union, said: “Our focus is always on our members, which is why 76% of our personal loan customers interviewed by the Foundation said that they had one or more other products with us. It is not just about offering competitive and transparent products, but also a range of features and services that help people manage their money better.

“Many in the financial services industry are too obsessed with getting into best-buy tables, but to do this transparency can often be lost with many products offering short term “teaser rates” that can quickly get expensive. People with these products can end up worse off than if they chose another product that takes a more holistic approach to helping customers with their money.”

Fairbanking’s assessment also reviews the provider’s complaints procedures and experience for the product in question. Antony Elliott, Chief Executive of Fairbanking Foundation said: “Our quality mark programme is an important step in helping customers to identify products that have been rigorously tested for the financial well-being they can deliver. Crucially, it also provides a powerful incentive for financial institutions of all sizes to compete through continual improvement of their products in ways that will truly benefit their customers.”

Over the last ten years, London Capital Credit Union has seen a 1,400% increase in members’ savings from £436,000 to over £6 million. And as co-operative, London Capital Credit Union is owned and controlled by its members – not outside shareholders.

Find out more at www.credit-union.coop.

Savings boost for London Capital Credit Union

London Capital Credit Union logoLondon Capital Credit Union has had one of its best months ever, with member savings rocketing by £300, 000 in March alone.

The credit union saw its savings deposits grow by almost 4% last month, taking the total amount of member savings to over £7.75 million for the first time.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “2015 is proving to be another exceptional year for us, with more people than ever turning to the credit union to find a safe home for their savings.

“With bank interest rates at rock bottom, the dividend offered by London Capital Credit Union looks very attractive – last year, for example, we paid 1.2% on all of our members’ savings. For an instant access account, this rate of return is not to be sniffed at.”

Martin adds that many people are also turning to the credit union because they like its ethics and philosophy of putting customers first.

“As a co-operative owned and controlled by its members, people like the fact that their money is staying in the community and not being used to generate profits for investors or speculators.”

London Capital Credit Union is dedicated to promoting saving and helping people deal with debt and now has over 11,000 members.

“At London Capital Credit Union, we believe that one of the best ways of keeping people out of the clutches of payday lenders and other high interest lenders is to encourage a savings habit and, by putting a little bit away each month, people can soon build up a pot of money to cover any unexpected expenses,” says Martin. “We are pleased that our message is getting through and that more and more people now see the credit union as a good place to save.”

London Capital Credit Union provides secure savings and low cost loans for anyone living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey or Islington. As a locally owned and run co-operative, all the money saved in the credit union stays in the community and is used to help other local people.

Find out more at www.credit-union.coop.

Ten years of growth for London credit union

London Capital Credit Union logoLondon Capital Credit Union has welcomed the latest figures from the Bank of England which show that credit unions have grown dramatically over the last decade. 

While the most recent figures from 362 credit unions show credit union membership and lending have more than doubled over the past ten years, figures at London Capital show a thirty-fold increase in members, from 321 to 10,062.

Over the last ten years, London Capital Credit Union has also seen a 1400% increase in members’ savings from £436,000 to over £6 million.

The latest Bank of England figures are great news for British credit unions,” says Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union. “Since the first credit union was set up in Britain over 50 years ago, the sector has continued to thrive and it is good to see that growth has gathered pace in the last ten years.

“As our figures show, London Capital is one of the credit unions leading the charge and we are so proud to be delivering affordable financial services to thousands of Londoners.”

London Capital Credit Union is dedicated to promoting saving and helping people deal with debt. It provides secure savings and low cost loans for anyone living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey or Islington.

Across England, Scotland and Wales there are now over 1,173,200 people with credit union accounts.

As a co-operative, London Capital Credit Union is owned and controlled by its members – not outside shareholders. Members of the credit union can find out more about how their organisation has performed over the past year by attending the AGM which takes place on Tuesday 3rd March 2015, starting at 6.30pm in the Peel Centre, Great Percy Street, WC1X 9EY.

Find out more at www.credit-union.coop.