Following three recent public sign up sessions, another 150 council employees have joined the two local credit unions covering County Durham and Gateshead; Prince Bishops Community Bank and NE First Credit Union (formerly Durham County Credit Union). The council are supporting the local credit unions to tackle the rise in high interest payday loans which can lead to borrowers becoming trapped in debt. With credit unions offering safer loans to local savers which other agencies might not lend to, members of the public are being urged to get online and find out about all the benefits.
As well as the promise of dividends for savers and the availability of loans, opening an account also means residents can take advantage of low cost weekly furniture and white goods buying schemes. Both credit unions are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority so savers can be certain that their money is safe.
Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, was one of the first to sign up: “Credit unions are a great way for people to save and help their whole community. During difficult economic times, more and more people are making ends meet by turning to loan sharks or payday lenders who can charge huge sums of interest. Saving with your local credit union not only means your money is safe and earning dividends but can also help you and others avoid getting trapped in debt.”
To encourage more people to avoid the perils of payday loans, Durham County Council is also in the process of banning access to their websites from all of its computers. As a result, all staff and members of the public using council computers, such as those in libraries, will be redirected to information about the credit unions and help and advice on money matters instead.
Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for corporate services, said: “We’re delighted that so many of our staff have discovered the benefits of saving with local credit unions and are appealing for the public to join them. It’s vital that the council takes measures to protect residents from becoming trapped in debt and the block on payday loan company websites will ensure local people are aware that there’s a safer way to save.”