Credit union celebrates after loans issued reaching new heights
CLEVR Money, the not-for-profit credit union for Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Preston and Lancaster, is celebrating after issuing £20million in loans since it was launched in 2009. That equates to 23,400 loans over the last 13 years, ranging from £250 to £15,000 to help local people with their finances.
As a credit union, interest rates on the loans are capped to ensure they are fair and affordable for people to pay back. The credit union is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to help local people avoid bad debt. Any money made is reinvested back into the business to help yet more people, with any surplus shared out between members as a dividend.
Marking the £20m milestone is an important moment for everyone involved with the credit union, says loans manager Anthony Brookes. He said: “In a world full of big numbers, where a footballer can make that amount in a month, it’s hard to appreciate what hitting this £20million milestone really means. But it is huge for the people of our community.
“It’s £20m in the pockets of normal people, money which gives them the spending power to make better choices and provide for their families. It’s money which prevents them from using a doorstep lender, a PayDay loan or even a loan shark. It’s cash that allows them to fix the car to get to work, or buy their kids new shoes for school, or gives them the ability to refinance existing debt, by paying off another loan gone bad.
“Our loans let people pay for what they need right now, and pay it back responsibly in the future without fear of it spiralling and ruining their lives. Our loans provide peace of mind which supports good mental health. Our loans come from an ethical, community-focussed organisation which exists to help people take control of their finances and avoid bad debt. When seen like that you can understand what £20million means for the people of Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre, Preston and Lancaster and its certainly worth taking a moment to mark that.”
CLEVR Money has seen the number of loan applications and the amount it issues double over the last three years. The increased rate of lending is due to a growing awareness of the credit union and the support it offers, but also a growing need for short-term small loans from people who are struggling to supplement their monthly income when an unexpected cost arises, a situation only set to get worse as the cost of living crisis continues.
“People have been stretching their money for a long time as neither wages or benefits have increased in line with real life costs. While most of our members are people in employment, folk are feeling the pinch and applying for smaller sums to tide them over. Without us they could be using a PayDay loan or even a loan shark which, unfortunately, can see debt spiral and leave them worse off each month.
“Because we’re focused on avoiding bad debt, our loans are designed to help people get straight with their finances rather than just meet that short term need, so their income is spent on living costs rather than increasing debts. We know how those loans make a real difference in people’s lives and everyone who saves with us should be incredibly proud of the part they have played in helping to make that support possible.”
A credit union is a community savings and loan cooperative. People come together to save money which is then loaned out to local people who need it. As that money is paid back with a small interest rate, the profit is ploughed back into the business to ensure it can continue to help others.
Anyone who lives or works in the local credit union’s “common bond” area can join CLEVR Money and open a savings account. As a member, they are then able to access their fair and affordable loans from £300 to £15,000 which can be used for anything from paying bills to home improvements.
CLEVR Money chairman David Owen added: “The £20million milestone is an incredible achievement for the CLEVR Money team who I know work tirelessly every day to support people in our community. It is so satisfying to know that this credit union which we set up more than a decade ago continues to go from strength-to- strength, helping more and more local people every year, and remains a real force for good in our community. ”