Category Archives: Credit unions

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.

National first helps families fight off loan sharks

Martin Groombridge

Martin Groombridge

Hundreds of secondary school starters in Haringey have already opened a free £20 credit union savings account as part of a landmark financial awareness scheme by Haringey Council.

Application packs have been sent to nearly 3, 000 Haringey pupils starting Year 7 this term for a School Savers account with London Capital Credit Union, with nearly 200 students already signing up.

The council-funded scheme, the first of its kind in England, is designed to encourage children to get into the savings habit and promote alternatives to unscrupulous payday loan companies.

Accompanied by financial management lessons in schools, accounts are ‘locked in’ for two years, with students and their parents encouraged to add to their savings where possible.

Councillor Joe Goldberg, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Social Inclusion and Sustainability, said: “We want our children to be given every opportunity to learn about money and the different financial options available as they grow up.

“Giving every Year 7 child an account with a responsible credit union will give them a chance to start saving early on in life and understand the alternatives to the scourge of legal loan sharks colonising our high streets.”

Haringey Council has provided £750,000 in loans to the credit union in the last two years, which has more than 3,000 members in the borough – and the fastest growing contingent of anywhere in London.

The credit union has issued affordable loans worth almost £1 million since October 2012 and holds more than £1 million in savings from Haringey residents.

Martin Groombridge, chief executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Haringey Council in this way to encourage children to learn the importance of saving and budgeting.

“This monetary incentive is a fantastic way to get Haringey children to open savings accounts and for their families to benefit from the services of the credit union.”

Every Year 7 child who lives in Haringey or attends a school in the borough is eligible for an account, which can be opened by simply returning the application form sent to all pupils.

For more information and to download a copy of the application pack, visit www.haringey.gov.uk/creditunion

Credit unions are good for employers

Dave Prentis,   General Secretary of UNISON,   and Helen Baron, President of London Capital Credit Union.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, and Helen Baron, President of London Capital Credit Union.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of trade union UNISON, has become the 11,000th member of London Capital Credit Union.

Dave Prentis was signed into membership of the credit union as it launched an initiative to encourage more employers to offer transfers direct from employees’ wages to their credit union accounts.

In the UK, London Capital Credit Union is leading the way in the fight back against loan sharks and payday lenders by encouraging more people to use credit unions.

Chief Executive Martin Groombridge said: “Credit union members have access to fair and affordable loans and savings and it is in all employers’ interests to help their staff keep clear of money lenders that focus on profit and greed. As a member-owned co-operative, we are driven to improve the financial well-being of our members.”

Over the past year, London Capital Credit Union has seen a 47% increase in membership and is keen to work with employers that can offer payroll deduction to their staff.

Added Martin: “By enabling payroll deduction straight to a credit union account, employers are offering an easy and convenient way for employees to save. Financial stability can only be good for employees and their families.”

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. Over the past year, it has seen a 62% increase in loans to members but at the same time has seen members’ savings increase by 59% to £6.6 million.

A typical £1,000 loan from the credit union, paid back over one year, would cost a total of just £67 in interest. This is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to borrow from a payday lender, for instance.

Martin said: “Credit union membership is good for employees and employers, with both being able to benefit. Financial problems for employees can lead to stress and illness which can result in time off work, and this in turn leads to problems for employers. A credit union can provide the services and support to help employees manage their money effectively, creating a better workplace for all.”

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

Credit union saved Londoners £6.5m in interest payments

People who have taken out loans with London Capital Credit Union in the last 12 months have together saved over £6.5 million in interest payments and other charges.

Martin Groombridge

Martin Groombridge, Chief executive of London Capital Credit Union

The figures were revealed by Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of the credit union, as he encouraged people to see for themselves how much they could save by becoming a credit union member.

In the 12 months to the end of August, London Capital Credit Union issued loans to the value of £5.3 million. According to Martin Groombridge, these loans saved local people a significant amount of money. “We estimate that our members will have saved £6.5 million in interest, charges and fees by switching their borrowing to us from payday lenders and other high interest lenders.”

A loan from a credit union such as London Capital Credit Union will result in lower repayments than from a payday lender or a doorstep loan. Said Martin: “That’s where people taking our loans in London can really benefit. What’s more, our ‘Saver Loans’ are designed to help people get into the savings habit, without racking up high interest charges.”

A typical £1,000 loan from the credit union, paid back over one year, would cost a total of just £67 in interest. This is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to borrow from a payday lender, for instance.

“That extra money stays in the local economy,” says Martin, “which has to be good news for everyone.”

London Capital Credit Union is a not-for-profit co-operative dedicated to promoting saving and dealing with debt. Established in 1962 it now has 11,000 members and £7m of assets and provides secure savings and low cost loans for anyone living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey or Islington.

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

Volunteering does Omkar credit!

When Omkar Omkar HushingHushing came to Britain shortly after getting married, he already had experience working for a mortgage lender in Mumbai. However, he was unable to find a job in the UK until he volunteered at London Capital Credit Union.

“It was very hard for me to get a job when I first moved here, because people didn’t think my experience in India was relevant to the UK market,” says Omkar from Hither Green.

But now, following three months’ volunteering with London Capital Credit Union, Omkar has secured a full time job with Initial Finance in West London. “Before I had the experience at the credit union, it was hard to get an interview let alone a job,” he says.

“During my time volunteering with the credit union I met some fantastic people and I was able to help with loan decisions for their members.”

London Capital Credit Union, based in Archway, is a not-for-profit co-operative dedicated to promoting saving and dealing with debt and 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 volunteer at the credit union, Omkar helped out in a number of administrative roles, but he says he was most at home with the loan process.

Credit unions offer relatively small – but affordable – loans to their members. Says Omkar: “Credit unions help people get back onto their feet and I can say that they also offered me a great chance to establish myself in the UK.”

According to Omkar, the credit union’s ethical approach to financial services will stay with him in his future career. “Credit unions really do good; they care about their customers and the way they treat people will influence how I deal with people in the future.”

To find out more about how London Capital Credit Union could help you, please visit www.credit-union.coop

Technology makes managing money easier

A new text messaging service from London Capital Credit Union will help savers and borrowers keep track of their money by allowing them to find out their account balances using their mobile phone.

Chief Executive at London Capital Credit Union

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive at London Capital Credit Union

The locally-owned credit union offers both savings accounts and affordable loans and the text balance service is one of a number of ways that London Capital Credit Union is making managing money easier. Members can already access their accounts online and a new mobile app is due to be launched later this year.

By texting the words “mybalance” to the credit union at any time, credit union members who have registered their mobile phone numbers can receive a text message listing their account balances. Balances are updated in real time, meaning loans, savings accounts and membership account balances are all shown on the text service.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “Staying in control of your money is easiest when you know how much money you have in your account so we are pleased to be able to introduce this new service to help our members manage their money.

“Our new text messaging service is available 24 hours a day so members can check their balances at any time. Texts are charged at standard rates and it is free for members to receive their balance information.”

Martin added: “We like the human touch and are proud of the advice we can give to our members face to face, but we know there is a role for modern technology to help members keep track of their own finances.”

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

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.”

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 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.

MPs put their money where their mouth is

Parliamentary LMCU logostaff, including MPs, can pay into a credit union via payroll deduction, thanks to a new service launched on Monday 25th November.

Agreements with the Parliamentary authorities mean that anyone working in the Palace of Westminster can now join London Mutual Credit Union and save or repay loans direct from their wages.

The initiative was launched at an event in Parliament hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions and London Mutual Credit Union. Money saving expert Martin Lewis spoke at the launch and also became a member of the credit union.

Credit union partnerships are a cost effective way for employers to enhance the financial well being of employees and payroll deduction makes saving and borrowing easy and convenient. The Parliamentary authorities are the latest in a long list of employers to offer this benefit to their employees. Staff working for the police force, public transport employers, British Airways and the NHS are just some of the people who already enjoy the convenience of payroll deduction.

Martin Lewis said: “With the growth scourge of payday lending across the UK – credit unions are a viable, cheaper, non-profit local alternative and should be encouraged. Therefore today I hope to be excited at the launch event to see senior MPs and even Government Ministers giving the London Mutual their backing by joining up and making use of the deduction facility. It’ll be interesting to see who puts their money where their mouth is.

“This extra income for the credit union can then be lent back out to the community as affordable loans, stopping the need for many to resort to the use of high-cost credit and demonstrating the benefit to both sides of the financial equation of becoming a member.”

Damian Hinds MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, said: “I am delighted to see London Mutual Credit Union extend its services to all of those working in and around Parliament. Partnering with employers and payroll deduction arrangements can have enormous benefits for credit union development while providing a valuable financial service to workers and employers.”

Lord Kennedy of Southwark, a Vice Chair of the APPG on Credit Unions, said: “In extending to Parliamentarians and Parliamentary staff, London Mutual will ensure that even more people can benefit from their excellent, affordable and ethical services both in Parliament and in the wider community. And I hope that in making personal use of London Mutual, many more MPs will be persuaded of the great value that credit unions generate for their members and society.”

Lucky Chandrasekera, London Mutual Credit Union chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to be launching our Parliamentary service today which is a goal we set ourselves some years ago. We hope by launching this service for Parliament that we can demonstrate the value of credit union membership on a daily basis to MPs and the wider Parliamentary staff. We have a range of competitive products and services for Parliament to take advantage of.”

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “The value of payroll deduction is not to be underestimated for all parties concerned. This high profile addition to employers offering this service is very welcome. The vast majority of large employers in the US – including the White House, Congress and Senate – offer this facility to their staff and I hope that many more will follow this example and talk to their local credit union about how they can help their employees access convenient financial services through payroll.”

Credit unions are financial co-operatives, owned by their members, which provide safe savings, affordable loans and a range of other financial services to over a million people in Britain.

London Mutual Credit Union is the largest community credit union in London. It serves over 20,000 members in the London Boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster and Camden. Members have access to a range of savings and loan products, including the Credit Union Current Account and a cash ISA offering 3% AER.