East Sussex Credit Union say they’ve had a great year, the number of members grew by 10% and savings increased by nearly 30%.
The Credit Union is a not-for-profit organisation that is owned, run and controlled by its members. It helps people to save and better manage their money. ESCU providing affordable loans to people in East Sussex with poor credit ratings, who other wise might have to turn to payday lenders or load sharks.
President, Richard Priestman said these are really exciting times for East Sussex Credit Union:
Over the coming year we are now very well placed to build on the progress we have been making. It is especially pleasing that awareness of the credit union is growing and that more and more local people are responding to our products and services. Just as importantly, the ongoing development of our business puts us in an even stronger position to continue to support the less fortunate in our community.
This week the Government announced it plans to introduce a cap on short-term lenders. The Financial Conduct Authority said their proposals, will mean from January 2015 people will never need to pay back more than twice what they have borrowed.
But StepChange Debt Charity said the move was a step forward, but was not a “silver bullet”. Head of policy Peter Tutton said:
The decision to cap the cost of loans at 100% of the amount borrowed will go some way to addressing the serious problem of lenders artificially inflating debts through rollovers and excessive interest and charges. We have reservations that this will offer great enough protections for financially vulnerable consumers.
Mainstream banks, credit unions and employers all have a role to play in providing a more responsible source of loans and I hope the Government will do more to promote such schemes.
In April, East Sussex County Council awarded £90,000 so the Credit Union can expand its services. They have also been given £28,320 of support over the next 3 years by Wealden District Council.
Says Richard Priestman:
These grants are valuable investments in our future and mean that we can continue to expand our workforce to enhance service and strengthen our marketing efforts. By the end of 2014 we expect to have increased our part-time work-force significantly, offering more jobs for local people.
In what has been a very busy year for the Credit Union, its innovative ‘Do it online project’ launched successfully in October last year to facilitate online membership and member services, while in November the organisation formally joined the government funded Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP). As a direct result, a sophisticated automated lending programme has now been implemented to increase efficiency and enhance service for members.
The work to support the financially challenged also continued with money management courses throughout the region. More recently the Credit Union started to pilot innovative debit cards that offer a basic bank account for those unable to get access to such services on the High Street. These cards also offer valuable ‘cash back’ and a built-in ‘jam jar’ savings facility.
Other new initiatives include boosting the return for young savers to 2% gross interest to encourage saving and a new corporate membership business loan policy targeting the small business community. This will be rolled out gradually over 2014.
For more information about East Sussex Credit Union you can contact their Community Advocate in Wealden, Marta Baginska by email or by visiting the Help Point in Uckfield between 10am and 12noon on a Thursday.