Mid and West Wales credit union membership tops 9,000

The number of people in mid and west Wales that save or take loans with their local credit union has topped the 9,000 mark.

Between them, they have nearly £5½m in savings and over £3½m in loans.

Vanessa Owens, operations manager at West Wales Credit Union said: “With Christmas approaching and cold weather adding to the cost of fuel bills, the winter months can be a difficult period financially. It’s good to see people in Mid and West Wales turning to credit unions as a viable alternative to pay-day loans companies or to save with, in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.”

The Welsh Government supports credit unions to encourage for people in Wales to develop a saving habit and to help provide alternative sources of credit to form other higher-cost lenders, such as pay day loan companies.

Wales-wide figures released on Friday show Christmas savings with Wales’ credit unions has topped the £1m. Over 2,000 people have Christmas savings accounts with credit unions in Wales and have put away an average of £515 each since January this year.

Unlike banks and payday loans companies, the maximum interest rates credit unions can set on loans and savings are set out in law. As well as loans, Welsh credit unions also offer regular savings accounts, for both adults and under 18s, and Christmas savings accounts. Across Wales, more than 60,000 people are members of credit unions.

The Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert said: “More and more people are turning to their local credit union as a way to save and we want to help this sector to continue to grow so that even more Welsh people have the option of saving and obtaining loans at a fairer interest rate.

“The money you save is given in loans to people you have a link with. If you borrow money, the interest you pay goes to the people who save, not to share holders. Either way, the money stays in Wales and is of benefit to other people in Wales.

“Many people are facing tough times and the rise of pay day lenders continues. We are working to help people manage their money in a better way in the hope they never have to turn to such companies. Whilst credit unions are not the sole answer to payday lenders, they integral to people accessing low-cost credit and advice to managing their finances.”

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