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NUST launch credit union initiative

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Many Newcastle United fans are unhappy with their club’s relationship with “payday loans” provider Wonga. Our affiliates at Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust (NUST) are prominent critics in that regard and, to their credit, they’ve put in real work to offer their club’s fans affordable, alternative financial options. NUST explain more below…

NUST today [Friday 14th November] launch a partnership with three local credit unions to offer Newcastle fans the opportunity to help their local communities with a specially-branded NUST savings account, which can give regular savers access to affordable short-term loans.

The launch will be attended by Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central and Ian Lavery MP for Wansbeck, and chief executives from The Bridges credit union (David Fleetwood), Moneywise credit union (Andrew Breese) and Northern Oak credit union (David Hall).

NUST has worked with three Tyneside-based credit unions – the Bridges Community Bank, Northern Oak and Moneywise over the past 18 months – to bring this initiative to fruition so that anyone in the UK can join these credit unions.

The initiative is part of the Trust’s wider aims of working with local community organisations that see it offer free football coaching in the city’s deprived areas through its junior supporters’ trust, free Newcastle tickets to local volunteers through its ‘Local Achievers’ initiative and regular donations to local charities through the sale of its ‘Black and White Ale’.

Michael Thewlis from Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust spoke about the reasons for working with local credit unions:

“The credit union movement is not widely understood in the UK and we are keen to help spread the word about the services these locally focussed organisations offer so they can expand the good work they do in their local communities.

“Once people join the credit union, it is like a normal high street bank and people can pay in money or withdraw their cash over the internet or at the branches of the credit unions.

“This initiative is particular pertinent following predictions that the payday lending market may contract following the Financial Conduct Authority’s cap on interest rates and fees for these lenders, and concerns that it may push people into the hands of loan sharks.

“We hope that by encouraging supporters to open a NUST-branded savings account, it will give our credit unions access to more funds so that they are able offer affordable loans – with interest rates that are still considerably lower than those imposed by the FCA on payday lenders – to more people in their community.”

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central said:

“I am so glad that Newcastle United Supporters Trust is offering this service for Newcastle fans. The Wonga sponsorship damages the image of Newcastle United when it comes to finances, encouraging fans to take out loans at very high interest rates. This service reminds us what local credit unions can offer, personal, local, long term financial support.”

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that NUST are launching this initiative and its significance should not be underestimated. The contrast between credit unions and organisations like the club’s sponsor are stark. It is unsurprising that while the supporters’ trust associate themselves with responsible lenders, those running the club choose to promote parasitic payday lenders. In this era where so many in our communities are struggling, improving awareness of credit unions and borrowing is hugely important and I cannot praise this initiative highly enough.”

Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow and a leading campaigner seeking better regulation of payday loans companies, said:

“Congratulations to all those involved in setting up the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust credit union account. It is a fantastic initiative to help people struggling financially by ensuring they can access affordable credit rather than having to go to a legal loan shark. That the fans of Newcastle feel so strongly about the need to challenge these companies speaks volumes about who is really looking out for the city. I know they have the gratitude of their MPs and the Labour movement for all their hard work to date and we are right behind them as they launch this next stage.”

Frank McKillop, Policy Manager for the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL), said:

“More and more people from all walks of life are joining credit unions as they recognise the benefit of a place to save regularly and borrow responsibly. More than one million people across Britain now use credit unions, with over £1 billion in savings. Around 2,500 people join a credit union every week, and we welcome this initiative by the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust to promote credit union services to fans of the club.”

Andrew Breese, Chief Executive from Moneywise credit union said:

“Credit unions offer a competitive product in a crowded market place. What makes us different is that we do not hide any charges or small print. Our agreements are clear and our offerings are ethical. As responsible lenders we are committed to ensuring that local money stays within the local community. Profits generated from our loans support employment and economic value to the communities we serve.”

David Fleetwood, chairman of the Bridges Community Bank said:

“We are delighted to be part of this exciting initiative which will not only raise awareness of the products and services a credit union can offer, but will hopefully help to move people away from a reliance on high cost credit.

“Bridges offer loans at between 5.1-42.6% APR, significantly less than door step lenders and the much publicised pay day loan market. Unlike the banks, we can provide small loans and won’t automatically turn you down if your credit history is less than perfect.

“By partnering with the NUST we hope to get the message out to their members that affordable loans and accessible savings plans are available – something which is good for the borrower and our local economy.”

David Hall, from Northern Oak credit union said:

“Payday lending has proliferated in Britain in recent years. However, these companies have been criticised about how they market their services, the interest rates they charge and the tactics they use to recover their money.

“People who borrow £300 over 30 days from a payday loan firm can expect to repay a total of £397.15 including fees and interest*, in a one-off repayment. A credit union would usually spread the loan over a longer term making the repayments more affordable. For example, a loan of £300 repayable over three months from the credit union would typically mean a total repayment of £312.06 at £104.02 per month.

“We are keen to show that there is another way for people to save and borrow money and just like high street banks, each individual saver’s money – up to the value of £85,000 per person – is protected by the government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme guarantee.”

Kevin Rye, from Supporters Direct said:

“We’re delighted to see this scheme established, and it is perfectly in line with what supporters’ trusts need to be doing: responding to the needs in their fans and their local communities and providing real, tangible benefits.”

Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Newcastle Citizen’s Advice Bureau said:

“We are delighted to help the Supporters’ Trust launch savings accounts with our local credit unions. Joining a credit union can really help you to manage your money quickly and easily without paying huge amounts of interest. Credit unions are local, so all the money stays here in the local north east economy. Everyone should think about joining up – the more people involved, the better the benefits will be for both savers and borrowers. Joining is really easy too – you can sign up to Moneywise Credit Union at Newcastle CAB. I personally joined Moneywise the other week, and am proud to be a member. “

Michael Thewlis from the Trust, said:

“Members of the Trust’s board have already opened accounts and the Trust has moved its money into the Moneywise credit union account. We really hope that Newcastle fans can support this new account, so that our local credit unions can grow their membership and the number of affordable loans they can offer in their local communities.”

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

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