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Meeting the needs of borrowers

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After a flurry of announcements on payday lending over recent weeks, I have been reflecting on options for borrowing. My conclusion is, as usual, that it’s complicated.

Payday lenders are going to be more tightly regulated, so we are told. This is long overdue. There are many horror stories of people with multiple and spiralling debts because they have used payday loans which have become out of control. In some cases normally entirely law abiding people have turned to crime, such has been the desperation.

So what is to be done? The news that payday lending will be better regulated is obviously welcome. The prediction that many will go out of business will not cause swathes of the population to lose sleep. Does this mean though that there will be a gap in borrowing facilities?

As a society, we feel the need to provide whatever services people want. If there is a market we should fill it. Somebody, somewhere will provide the service. That may be the case, but I wonder at what cost?

There have been many calls for credit unions to step up to the plate and replace payday lenders. The Financial Conduct Authority recently raised the cap on credit union interest rates. They can now charge up to 3% a month (42.6% APR) which pales into insignificance when compared to the 4000%+ APR that payday lenders charge. Of course not all credit unions will charge this maximum and those that do will only do so when they need to – when the loan is seen to be ‘risky’.

The trouble is that credit unions are there to provide ‘affordable and appropriate’ credit. They are not allowed, by their rules and the regulation, to lend to people who clearly can’t afford to repay their loan. Apart from being risky, lending to someone who can’t afford to repay is unethical, which doesn’t sit well with the credit union ethos. This is the conundrum that we face; how do we help people to meet their financial needs without sending them into spiralling debt.

The answer is simple to state, but extremely difficult to achieve.  It is about a balance of people learning to manage their money lives better and having affordable and appropriate financial products for them to use when they need them.

To hear more on my views on this topic, listen to an interview that I’ve given on SoundCloud.

Written by teejdew

April 22, 2014 at 8:34 am

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 2

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Earlier in the week, Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, started to look back on the last financial year and the work we had been involved with. We continue Derek’s review, by looking at how the Centre supports some of the most disadvantaged people and communities…

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, with Tracy Olin of PATCH

The work of the Centre is closely aligned with the wider tackling poverty agenda. In October we instigated an online campaign ‘Tackling Poverty Fortnight’ that not only received recognition in the Senedd, but demonstrated ways in which social enterprises and co-operative ways of working are supporting people in Wales’ most disadvantaged areas.

Our financial inclusion work continues to have an influence and impact in this area, particularly through our Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion project. That team has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and increase the uptake of Credit Union Rent Accounts, which can help housing tenants, across private, social and council housing, to maintain their tenancies in the face of sweeping Welfare Reforms. This work benefits from close work relationships with housing providers and other partners. More recently, I did my own bit to raise awareness of the issues facing homeless people, in the inaugural Cardiff CEO Sleepout. That event reminded me of the value of our work, with those that need the greatest support.

The latest evaluation of our Social Enterprise Support Project was positive, including lines such as “satisfaction levels with Development Officers support is very high – ‘extremely’ or ‘very satisfied’ at 87%”. In this area of work, we also delivered another successful Social Enterprise Wales Conference and Awards and the new ‘Go Full Circle’ campaign that increased awareness raising of Welsh social enterprises among the general public. Last summer, Cardiff played host to the annual Co-operatives UK Congress that saw more than 300 co-operators come together, to debate issues that matter most to those in the sector.

Our Corporate Services have continued to strengthen the Centre’s corporate governance, financial processes, HR and ICT infrastructure – all vital work, while the Marketing team re-structure is providing a more effective approach to the way we promote our services and raising awareness of our work, that of our clients and the wider sector.

The last financial year also saw us intensify international links, with staff making trips to Africa, to support community enterprises, and participating in an exchange with representatives of the social enterprise sector in the Czech Republic. It is important to be involved with such activities, so we can promote the best of what Wales has to offer in terms of co-operative and social enterprise development, on the world stage, and so we can learn from best practice approaches in other countries.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

Greeted by schoolchildren in Lesotho, where we supported community enterprises last year.

While there is a rich diversity to our work, with many seemingly independent activities, one thing binds it together – a co-operative ethos that sees projects, initiatives, organisations, businesses and individuals getting more from working together. It’s at the heart of everything we do.

When you think about it, that’s some year…..and we haven’t covered everything in this blog post!

As we look ahead to the next twelve months, we know there are challenges ahead but we can meet them head on, with confidence. That confidence comes from the knowledge that we are a strong organisation, with experienced and innovative staff, that make a difference in communities around Wales every day of the week.

Reflecting on the last 12 months – part 1

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With the new financial year barely a week old, Derek Walker, our Chief Executive, has taken the opportunity to look back on the last twelve months at the Wales Co-operative Centre….

Derek Walker

Derek Walker

I was recently looking through the posts on our blog site from the last twelve months. I was struck by the realisation that we have covered an awful lot of ground as an organisation. In addition, the scale of our output is matched by the quality and impact of our work.

It’s a healthy thing to look back at what has gone before, as you can learn from experience and take confidence from what has gone well. Another thing that occurred to me was the rich diversity of our work.

Since the start of the last financial year, some new clients have emerged. To highlight just a few – AFS in Swansea, where former Remploy staff came together to form a worker co-operative that has already proven successful. The Cambrian Village Trust social enterprise, in Clydach Vale, was supported to open a new, world class, all-weather football pitch. PS Services, a social business run by mental health charity Gofal, won the ‘One to Watch’ category at the UK Social Enterprise Awards. Many other businesses that we’ve supported have gone from strength to strength, showing that co-operatives and social enterprises are models for growth, as well as sustainability.

Elsewhere in the Centre, we’ve received additional funding from Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund to expand the area covered by Communities 2.0, to now help people in the most deprived parts of Cardiff, Newport, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire make the most of computers and the Internet. Communities 2.0 has also seen a number of county-wide initiatives launch in the last year, heavily based on strong partnership work – bringing the people and organisations together than can make a real difference.

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Accommodation Furniture Solutions Ltd

Our co-operative housing project has been extended for another two years. More groups around Wales are talking to us, and our partners, about the potential to develop co-operative housing schemes in their community, giving people more direct control over their living arrangements.

The year’s watershed moment came with the publication of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission report. Led by Professor Andrew Davies, the Commission has concluded that “conventional approaches to economic growth and development are not sufficient alone to achieve the improvement in the social and economic wellbeing of people in Wales”, adding “co-operatives and mutuals offer significant economic, social and environmental benefits compared with ordinary businesses. Their development must be central to transforming Wales’ economic fortunes”. These words come as a clarion call to those involved in the co-operatives and mutuals sector, as well as those on the fringes who have yet to realise the full potential of co-operative approaches to economic development. The report’s recommendations are currently being discussed at a series of consultation events and it will be interesting to hear how others think they should be taken forward. The report’s recommendations have the Centre’s full support.

Join us for the second part of this blog post, later in the week…

Tackling Poverty: “We ALL need to use and invest in credit unions”

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Last week, Katija Dew, our Financial Inclusion Programme Director and Financial Inclusion Champion for Wales, attended and spoke at a high-level event that looked into the issue of Poverty and Welfare Reform in Wales. Here’s her account of the Policy Forum for Wales conference that took place in Cardiff:

Picture of Katija Dew

Katija Dew

“The discussions were interesting and ‘lively’ I would say.

We heard from a range of speakers from the education, voluntary and support sectors, along with the Taxpayers Alliance and Stephen Crabb, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Wales, about Welfare Reform and Poverty. This subject is so big, so complex and so…emotive, hence the lively debate.

On a policy level, Wales is forward thinking. Dr Jim McCormick of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reflected that Wales has the most focussed plans for Tackling Poverty of the UK nations. Health, education, employment, housing; it seems it’s all there. So what was Dr McCormick’s parting message? It was that whilst devolved nations have little control over the welfare system, the primary source of tackling poverty is within their gift. That is the building of a strong economy that provides jobs and the building of a skilled and knowledgeable workforce that can take those jobs.

On a practical level, I spent my precious five speaking minutes on more immediate concerns; the use of payday lending services and use of credit unions as an alternative. Yes, credit unions are a responsible alternative lending vehicle, but we need to be fair. There is a reason that other financial institutions don’t provide these services. Sending vulnerable, and frankly expensive to serve, customers to them produces an imbalance in their membership. As a social enterprise they are keen to support financially excluded members but can only do so if all of us invest in and use them. That’s you and I.

A question was asked about illegal money lending and what needs to be done to prevent its exponential spread in the new benefits environment. Of course, we need a strong and well supported Illegal Money Lending team to help tackle the problem but for me, the answer starts with financial inclusion. People have to have an accessible account in which they can receive their income. That account must have the transactional facilities needed to keep their money safe. Beyond that, they need to have the knowledge and capability to use that account to make the most of their money. If, for any reason, that is not possible the Government’s ‘alternative payment arrangement’ safety net should cut in for all that need it.

Financial inclusion is the not the answer to tackling poverty, but it gives people control over the money they have.”

You can find more information about our financial inclusion work on the Wales Co-operative Centre website.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

February 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

Gallu Ariannol… yn y newyddion eto.

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Picture of Katija Dew

Katija Dew

Katija Dew, Cyfarwyddwr Rhaglen ar gyfer Cynhwysiad Ariannol yng Nghanolfan Cydweithredol Cymru’n siarad am allu ariannol a’i bwysigrwydd wrth helpu pobl i reoli eu harian yn well.

Mewn adroddiad a gyhoeddwyd yr wythnos hon galwodd Pwyllgor y Trysorlys am adolygiad annibynnol ar a ddylai’r Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol barhau’n sefydliad statudol. Ar wahân i ganfyddiadau penodol am y Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol, mae’n ddiddorol nodi sut rydym wedi newid ein meddylfryd tuag at allu ariannol.

Roedd adeg pan roeddem yn hyrwyddo ‘llythrennedd ariannol’.  Yn nodweddiadol cafodd hyfforddiant llythrennedd ariannol ei ‘addysgu’ ar ffurf ystafell ddosbarth, ac roedd yn ymwneud yn bennaf â rhifau a phrosesau ar bapur.  Byddwn yn gofyn ‘Ydych chi’n deall beth yw APR a sut i gyfrifo faint o log y byddwch yn ei dalu?’.  Cyfrifom nifer y bobl ddaeth i’r hyfforddiant ac roedd popeth yn iawn.  Roeddem ar yr un pryd yn asesu nifer y bobl ym Mhrydain oedd heb fanc.  Roedd hi’n warthus bod cymaint â 3 miliwn o bobl heb gyfrif banc, ac aeth gwneuthurwyr polisi ati i gael pobl i gofrestru. Roedd hwn yn achos o gynhwysiad ariannol heb os nac oni bai.  Mae diffyg cyfrif banc yn arwain at eithrio, mae cofrestru ar gyfer cyfrif banc yn arwain at gynhwysiad, yn enwedig os ydych yn dweud wrth bobl beth yw gorddrafft a pha APR sydd i’w dalu. Ond beth am ddefnyddio’r cyfrif banc hwnnw’n dda? Doedd dim ots am hynny yn ôl y golwg, roedd cael y cyfrif a’r wybodaeth yn ddigon.

Ond symudodd y meddylfryd yn ei flaen a bu’r Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol yn rhan o’r symud hwnnw.  Clywais y term ‘gallu ariannol’ ganddynt hwy’n gyntaf.  Fel cynghorydd ar ddyled byddwn i’n aml yn clywed ‘ydw, rwy’n gwybod bod benthycwyr carreg drws yn ddrud a bod yr APR yn uchel, ond rwy’n gallu talu’r swm wythnosol.’  Mae gallu ariannol yn ymwneud â gwybodaeth, cysylltu’r wybodaeth hon ag amgylchiadau personol a chael yr hyder i wneud dewisiadau priodol.

Ond wedyn symudom ymlaen ymhellach.  Archwiliodd gwaith ymchwil diddorol a gomisiynwyd gan y Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol o’r enw ‘Money Lives’ yn union sut ddewisodd pobl reoli’u harian, er gwaethaf cyfaddef yn aml eu bod yn gwybod na ddylent wario felly. Roedd ganddynt y wybodaeth, roedd ganddynt y gallu, ond roedd eu dewisiadau’n dal i godi cwestiynau. Roeddent yn ei wybod ond yn methu ag esbonio’u hymddygiad.  Yr ‘ymddygiad arian’ hwn yw craidd y broblem yn fy nhyb i. Mae’n ymwneud â gwybodaeth, gallu, hyder, arfer, diwylliant a gobeithion.

Mae’r pegynau’n codi’n uwch fodd bynnag.  Mae’r trafodaethau hynny ynghylch benthycwyr carreg drws gyda thua 500% APR bellach ynghylch benthycwyr diwrnod tâl gyda thua 4000% APR. Gallwn gyfyngu rhai ffurfiau ar fenthyg ond os nad yw pobl yn dewis rheoli’u harian yn wahanol byddant bob tro’n dod o hyd i rywun digon bodlon benthyg iddynt ar delerau hynod anffafriol ac weithiau peryglus.

Beth sydd angen inni’i wneud felly? Mae angen i ni barhau i annog pobl i feddwl am eu harian a sut y gallant sicrhau mwy o arian i’w hunain trwy ddewis ei reoli’n fwy effeithiol. Nid yw hynny’n golygu pregethu i eraill ar beidio â benthyca. Mae’n ymwneud â’u helpu i wneud dewisiadau mwy gwybodus ynghylch y benthyciad, yr hyn sy’n digwydd wedyn a’r hyn mae’n ei olygu iddynt. Er enghraifft, bydd undeb credyd bob tro’n annog rhywun i gyllidebu er mwyn gallu talu’r benthyciad yn ôl iddynt a chynilo swm bach yr un pryd. Yn y tymor hirach bydd ganddynt fenthyciad gyda llog isel ac yswiriant sy’n rhoi swm wedi’i gynilo ar ei ben erbyn y diwedd y gallant ei wario ar unrhyw beth maent yn ei ddymuno.

I ddechrau, tra bo pobl mewn lleoedd eraill yn meddwl am y Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol a’i ddyfodol, mae angen i ni barhau i helpu pobl i reoli eu hamgylchiadau eu hunain. Mae’r wefan http://www.moneymadeclearwales.org/index.php?pageID=3&lng=cym yn fan cychwyn ardderchog ac fe allai eich cysylltu â’r Gwasanaeth Cynghori Ariannol gan y’i chrëwyd gyda’i gymorth. Mae’r offer yn glir, yn ddefnyddiol ac yn bwysig ar ein cyfer ni yng Nghymru, yn gyfleuster dwyieithog.

Mae gallu ariannol sy’n arwain at ‘ymddygiad ariannol’ da yn allweddol. Mae angen gwybodaeth a chynnyrch ariannol fforddiadwy a theg i fod ar gael. Ond os nad ydym yn gwybod sut i reoli’n harian yn dda, ni fyddwn wedi’n cymell i’w wneud. Os nad ydym wedi’n cymell, nid oes pwynt meddu ar yr wybodaeth a’r cyfleusterau nag oes?

Written by ieuannash

December 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Financial Capability…. in the news again.

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Picture of Katija Dew

Katija Dew

Katija Dew, Programme Director for Financial Inclusion at the Wales Co-operative Centre comments on financial capability and its importance in helping people to manage their money better.

In a report published this week, the Treasury Committee called for an independent review on whether the Money Advice Service (MAS) should continue to exist as a statutory organisation. Irrespective of the specific findings about MAS, it is interesting to note how we have changed our thinking about financial capability.

There was a time when we promoted ‘financial literacy’. Typically ‘taught’ through chalk and talk, financial literacy training was primarily about numbers and mechanisms on pieces of paper. ‘Do you understand what APR is and how to calculate how much interest you will pay?’ we would ask. We duly counted how many people attended the training and it was fine. At the same time, we were assessing how many people in Britain were unbanked. It was scandalous that as many as 3 million people didn’t have a bank account and policy makers raced around to get people signed up. This was financial inclusion, pure and simple. No bank account means exclusion, signing up to a bank account means inclusion, particularly if you tell people what an overdraft is and what APR is payable. But what about using that bank account well? That didn’t seem to matter, having the account and the knowledge was enough.

But the thinking moved on and the Money Advice Service has been part of that move. I heard the term ‘financial capability’ there first. As a debt adviser I would regularly hear ‘yes, I know that doorstep lender is expensive and the APR is sky high, but I can pay the weekly amount.’  Financial capability is about knowledge, relating this to one’s own circumstances and having the confidence to make appropriate choices.

But then we moved on further. A fascinating piece of Money Advice Service commissioned research ‘Money Lives’ examined exactly how people chose to manage their money, despite often admitting that they knew they shouldn’t spend in that way. The knowledge was there, the capability was there but the choices were still questionable. The participants knew it but they couldn’t explain their behaviour. This ‘money behaviour’ is the crux of the matter for me. It’s about knowledge, capability, confidence, habit, culture and aspiration.

The stakes get higher and higher though. Those conversations about doorstep lenders at 500ish% APR are now about payday lenders at 4000ish% APR. We can restrict some forms of lending, but if people don’t choose to manage their money differently they will always find someone very happy to lend to them on extremely unfavourable and sometimes dangerous terms.

So what do we need to do? We need to keep encouraging people to think about their money and how they can make themselves better off by choosing to manage it more effectively. That doesn’t mean lecturing others on not taking a loan. It’s about them making an educated choice about that loan, what happens afterwards and what it means to them. For example a credit union will always encourage someone to budget so that they can pay back their loan to them and put a small amount into savings at the same time. In the long term they will have a low interest, insured loan which gives them a bonus pot of savings at the end which they can use for whatever they want.

In the first instance whilst people in other places are thinking about the Money Advice Service and its future, we need to keep helping people to take control of their own circumstances. The www.moneymadeclearwales.org website is an excellent place to start and may link you to the Money Advice Service provision as it was created with their support. The tools are clear, helpful and importantly for us in Wales it is a bilingual facility.

Financial capability that leads to good ‘money behaviour’ is key. Knowledge is necessary, as is the availability of affordable and fair financial products. But if we don’t know how to manage our money well, we aren’t going to be motivated to do it. And if we aren’t motivated to do it, there’s no point in having the knowledge and facilities, is there?

Written by ieuannash

December 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

Cyfrif rhent undeb credyd yn lleihau’r gofid – #povertyinwales

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Mae Miss X* yn fam ifanc sy’n byw yn Ne Cymru. Mae’n cael trafferthion yn aml i reoli ei harian a gall cefnogi plentyn ifanc sy’n sâl o wythnos i wythnos fod yn her barhaus. Mae talu biliau a delio ag arian wedi achosi poen meddwl i Miss X erioed. Mae’r pryderon hyn yn rhai gwirioneddol oherwydd y costau ychwanegol sy’n ynghlwm wrth ofalu am blentyn sâl a darparu ar ei gyfer.

Mae Miss X yn byw yn ei heiddo presennol a rentir yn breifat ers dros flwyddyn a hanner ac mae’n cael lwfans tai lleol i dalu’i rhent. Dywedodd ei landlord wrthi am y Cyfrif Rhent Undeb Credyd pan ddechreuodd gael trafferthion wrth dalu’i rhent ac roedd Miss X yn fwy na pharod i gofrestru ar y cynllun. Bu cefnogaeth ei landlord yn amhrisiadwy gan wneud y broses o sefydlu’r cyfrif yn un gyflym a hawdd.

Mae rhent bob amser wedi bod yn flaenoriaeth i Miss X ac mae cael Cyfrif Rhent Undeb Credyd yn lleihau’r gofid. Os na all Miss X am ba bynnag reswm gyrraedd y banc, gall fod yn dawel ei meddwl y telir ei rhent yn uniongyrchol i’w landlord cyn gynted ag y mae’r undeb credyd yn derbyn  ei budd-daliadau. Hand holding house keys

Mae’r prosiect Taclo Digartrefedd trwy Gynhwysiant Ariannol (THFI) yng Nghanolfan Cydweithredol Cymru wedi bod yn cefnogi undebau credyd i gynnig y cyfrif rhent ac mae’n hyrwyddo’r cynllun ledled Cymru i landlordiaid y sector preifat a’u tenantiaid. Bwriad y prosiect yw cefnogi landlordiaid a thenantiaid i gynnal tenantiaethau trwy ddiwygio’r budd-daliadau lles trwy ddefnyddio Cyfrif Rhent Undeb Credyd i dalu rhent.

Mae Lucia Gillespie, swyddog prosiect, wedi bod yn gweithio ochr yn ochr â swyddogion cyswllt tai’r sector preifat mewn awdurdodau lleol trwy ymweld â thenantiaid yn eu cartrefi i roi gwybod iddynt am y Cyfrif Rhent Undeb Credyd a’r diwygiadau lles sydd ar ddod. Mae Lucia’n llenwi holiadur cymorth gyda’r tenant i edrych ar sut y mae’n rheoli arian ac i nodi anghenion cymorth ychwanegol.

O ganlyniad, mae tenantiaid wedi elwa ar gael eu cyfeirio at iechyd yr amgylchedd, eu canolfan cyngor ar bopeth leol, banciau bwyd a chael gwybod am y benthyciadau cost isel a’r dewisiadau cynilo sydd ar gael yn eu hundeb credyd lleol.

* Dyma adroddiad gan unigolyn sy’n dymuno aros yn ddienw.

Gwrandewch ar Jocelle Lovell, Rheolwr Prosiect THFI yn siarad am fuddion cyfrif rhent undeb credyd ar SoundCloud.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

November 5, 2013 at 8:16 am

A credit union rent account is one less worry – #povertyinwales

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Miss X* is a young mum living in the South Wales area.  She has often struggled to manage her finances and having a young, sick child to support living from week to week can be a constant challenge.  Paying bills and dealing with money has always worried Miss X.  These worries are true concerns due to the added expenses involved in providing and caring for a sick child.

Miss X has been living in her current, privately rented property for over a year and a half and receives local housing allowance to pay her rent.  Her landlady told her about the Credit Union Rent Account when she began to struggle to keep up with payments and Miss X was more than happy to sign up to the scheme.  The landlady’s support has been invaluable, making it quick and easy to set up the account.

Rent has always been a priority for Miss X and having the Credit Union Rent Account is ‘one less worry.’  If Miss X can’t get to the bank for any reason, she can still have peace of mind that her rent will be paid direct to her landlord as soon as her benefits are received by the credit union.Hand holding house keys

The Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion (THFI) project at the Wales Co-operative Centre has been supporting credit unions to offer the rent account and promotes the scheme across Wales to private sector landlords and their tenants.  The aim of the project is to support landlords and tenants to maintain tenancies through welfare benefit reform by using a Credit Union Rent Account to pay rent.

Project officer, Lucia Gillespie, has been working alongside the private sector housing liaison officers in local authorities by visiting tenants in their homes, to make them aware of the Credit Union Rent Account and forthcoming welfare reforms.  Lucia completes a support questionnaire with the tenant to look at how they are managing money and identify additional support needs.

As a result, tenants have benefitted from signposting to environmental health, their local citizens advice bureau, food banks and being made aware of the low cost loans and saving options available at their local credit union.

* This is an account from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

Listen to THFI Project Manager Jocelle Lovell talking about the benefits of a credit union rent account on SoundCloud.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

November 5, 2013 at 8:15 am

A ‘Champion’ approach to tackling poverty, the co-operative way – #povertyinwales

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Cris Tomos – Robert Owen Co-operator of the year 2012 & Social Enterprise Champion Wales 2013 – has shared his story for Tackling Poverty Fortnight, to explain how a co-operative approach has benefited two West Wales communities:

When a group of local people wish to achieve change for the better, the co-operative community benefit model can result in great things.  My story in West Wales began in 2006 when our community of Hermon faced the sad situation of losing its full to capacity village primary school as a result of local authority primary education restructuring. The village of Hermon is a small Welsh community and having lost its shop, post office, garage and the pub being closed for a period, there was little or no public meeting places left in the community. The decision was taken to try and buy the old school site and in 2007 an Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) was formed as a community benefit co-operative. Much support was given by the Co-operatives UK team in Manchester and a constitution agreed and submitted to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) who registered new IPS Companies.

A board of directors was created and we consulted with the community about the level of share price we should aim for. The price was set at £250 per share; we also considered the important issue of including all the community and not having people financially excluded. Having been involved with the setting up of the local Credit Union, our local community financial co-operative, I discussed with the board of the Credit Union about a special shares loan, to allow people to borrow the £250 over 3 years. All agreed it was a great idea thus allowing individuals to repay the share loan at £8.31 a month for 36 months. The share issue documents were distributed and within 4 months we had raised £50,000. With additional fundraising the community put down the deposit for the site. Additional grant applications resulted in the community signing the legal documents and purchasing the site by February 2008.

Cris Tomos receiving his Social Enterprise Champion Wales  award from former winner Kelly Davies of Vi-Ability.

Cris Tomos receiving his Social Enterprise Champion Wales award from former winner Kelly Davies of Vi-Ability.

The community groups have flocked to the new community owned site which is knows as Canolfan Hermon. Within 24 months the number of groups had grown and the number of people within the groups had increased dramatically, as the old Victorian school was too small. Further Big Lottery and Welsh Government bids were submitted and in January 2011 a sum of £450,000 was clinched to develop a new 250 capacity hall with first floor conference rooms and office units. The new timber frame, eco friendly building with solar PV and thermal and air source under floor heating was ready for its first booking in December 2012. To see details about Canolfan Hermon please view www.canolfanhermon.org.uk

From the experiences of the share offer in my home village I was asked to attend a meeting in the nearby town of Cardigan where local people wished to purchase a large redundant area in the centre of Cardigan. There were 2 car parks, 4 store sheds, 2 shops and a house. I explained the process of setting up a Community Benefit Co-operative and all were in agreement that they wished to proceed and try and buy the site. A media campaign and share offer was launched in July 2010. By December 2010 the community co-operative had raised £210,000 in shares, with over 500 shareholders ensuring that the site was now in the possession on the local community. Once again the local Credit Union played an important part, as they had their head office in Cardigan Town. The Credit Union office acted as recipients of the share application forms and banked all the share funds until the new IPS called 4CG Ltd was formed. Since 2010 the new 4CG company has achieved great results in providing low cost parking to help support town traders, has gone on to buy further property such as the old police station, the old court house and old flats that will be changed into tourism bunk house provision. Details of the Cardigan town developments can be viewed on www.4cg.org.uk

Currently on the plans are new co-operatives for community energy and for community affordable housing and business units. It is clear to see that the Credit Union has played a crucial part and with the planned new development there will again be an opportunity for people to borrow from West Wales Credit Union. The Credit Union has expanded considerably from its base in Cardigan and now covers the counties of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Further details can be viewed on www.wwcu.co.uk . These examples of co-operatives working together in such a manner can result in positive outcomes for individuals, communities and society in general. Long may the collaboration continue!

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

October 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

Y dull cydweithredol, ffordd benigamp o daclo tlodi – #povertyinwales

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Mae Cris Tomos – enillydd gwobr Cydweithredwr y Flwyddyn Robert Owen 2012 a Hyrwyddwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru 2013 – wedi rhannu’i stori ar gyfer Pythefnos Trechu Tlodi i egluro sut y mae dwy gymuned yng Ngorllewin Cymru wedi elwa ar y dull cydweithredol:

Pan fo grŵp o bobl leol yn dymuno cyflawni newid er gwell, gall y model cydweithredol budd i’r gymuned arwain at bethau gwych. Dechreuodd fy stori yng Ngorllewin Cymru yn 2006 pan roedd ein cymuned yn Hermon yn wynebu’r sefyllfa drist o golli ei hysgol gynradd yn y pentref a oedd yn llawn i’r ymylon o ganlyniad i ailstrwythuro addysg gynradd gan yr awdurdod lleol. Mae pentref Hermon yn gymuned fach Gymreig ac ar ôl colli’r siop, swyddfa’r post, y garej a chau’r dafarn am gyfnod, nid oedd dim neu fawr ddim o leoedd cyfarfod yn weddill yn y gymuned. Gwnaethpwyd y penderfyniad i roi cynnig ar brynu hen safle’r ysgol ac yn 2007 ffurfiwyd Cymdeithas Ddiwydiannol a Darbodus (IPS) fel menter gydweithredol budd i’r gymuned. Cafwyd llawer o gymorth  gan dîm Co-operatives UK ym Manceinion a chytunwyd ar gyfansoddiad a’i gyflwyno i’r Awdurdod Gwasanaethau Ariannol sy’n cofrestru Cwmnïau IPS newydd.

Crëwyd bwrdd o gyfarwyddwyr a gwnaethom ymgynghori â’r gymuned am lefel pris y cyfranddaliadau y dylem anelu amdani. Gosodwyd pris o £250 am bob cyfranddaliad; gwnaethom hefyd ystyried y mater pwysig o gynnwys yr holl gymuned a pheidio ag eithrio pobl yn ariannol. Gan y bûm yn rhan o sefydlu’r Undeb Credyd lleol, ein menter gydweithredol ariannol gymunedol leol, trafodais â bwrdd yr Undeb Credyd fenthyciad cyfranddaliadau arbennig i alluogi pobl i fenthyg y £250 dros 3 blynedd. Cytunodd pawb ei fod yn syniad ardderchog gan felly ganiatáu unigolion i ad-dalu’r benthyciad am y cyfranddaliad ar £8.31 y mis am 36 mis. Dosbarthwyd dogfennau’r cyfranddaliadau a chyn pen 4 mis roeddem wedi casglu £50,000. Yna gwnaeth y gymuned, ar ôl codi rhagor o arian, gyflwyno’r blaendal am y safle. Yn sgil derbyn rhagor o arian trwy geisiadau grant, gwnaeth y gymuned lofnodi’r dogfennau cyfreithiol a phrynu’r safle erbyn mis Chwefror 2008.

Cris Tomos yn cael ei wobr Hyrwyddwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru gan gyn-enillydd Kelly Davies o Vi-Ability.

Cris Tomos yn cael ei wobr Hyrwyddwr Mentrau Cymdeithasol Cymru gan gyn-enillydd Kelly Davies o Vi-Ability.

Mae’r grwpiau cymunedol wedi heidio i’r safle newydd sy’n eiddo i’r gymuned a elwir yn Ganolfan Hermon. Cyn pen 24 mis roedd nifer y grwpiau wedi tyfu ac roedd nifer y bobl yn y grwpiau hyn wedi tyfu’n sylweddol, gan fod yr hen ysgol Fictoraidd yn rhy fach. Cyflwynwyd ceisiadau pellach i’r Loteri Fawr ac i Lywodraeth Cymru ac ym mis Ionawr 2011 cafwyd £450,000 i ddatblygu neuadd newydd â’r capasiti i ddal 250 gydag ystafelloedd cynadledda ac unedau swyddfa ar y llawr cyntaf. Roedd yr adeilad ecogyfeillgar newydd a chanddo ffrâm goed a phaneli solar a ffynonellau thermal ac aer i wresogi tan y llawr yn barod i’w logi am y tro cyntaf ym mis Rhagfyr 2012. I gael manylion am Ganolfan Hermon, ewch i http://www.canolfanhermon.org.uk

O achos fy mhrofiadau gyda chynnig cyfranddaliadau yn fy mhentref, gofynnwyd i mi fynd i gyfarfod yn nhref gyfagos Aberteifi lle’r oedd y bobl leol yn dymuno prynu ardal fawr wag yng nghanol Aberteifi. Roedd 2 faes parcio, 4 sied storio, 2 siop a thŷ. Eglurais y broses o sefydlu Menter Gydweithredol Budd i’r Gymuned ac roedd pawb yn cytuno yr oeddent am barhau a cheisio prynu’r safle. Lansiwyd ymgyrch yn y cyfryngau a’r cynnig cyfranddaliadau ym mis Gorffennaf 2010. Erbyn mis Rhagfyr 2010 roedd menter gydweithredol y gymuned wedi codi £210,000 trwy’r cyfranddaliadau, gyda dros 500 o randdeiliaid yn sicrhau bod y safle bellach ym meddiant y gymuned leol. Unwaith eto, gwnaeth yr Undeb Credyd lleol chwarae rhan bwysig gan fod ei brif swyddfa yn nhref Aberteifi. Bu swyddfa’r Undeb Credyd yn ganolfan ar gyfer derbyn ffurflenni cais y cyfranddaliadau a gwnaeth fancio holl arian y cyfranddaliadau nes y ffurfiwyd yr IPS newydd o’r enw 4CG. Er 2010 mae’r cwmni newydd 4CG wedi cyflawni canlyniadau gwych o ran darparu parcio rhad i helpu i gefnogi masnachwyr y dref, ac mae wedi mynd ymlaen i brynu rhagor o eiddo megis yr hen orsaf heddlu, yr hen dŷ llys a hen fflatiau a fydd yn cael eu newid yn ddarpariaeth byncws i dwristiaid. I gael manylion am y datblygiadau yn nhref Aberteifi, ewch i http://www.4cg.org.uk.

Ar hyn o bryd mae cynlluniau ar gyfer mentrau cydweithredol newydd ar gyfer ynni cymunedol a thai fforddiadwy ac unedau busnes cymunedol. Mae’n amlwg bod yr Undeb Credyd wedi chwarae rhan hanfodol a bydd cyfle eto gyda’r datblygiad newydd arfaethedig i bobl fenthyg gan Undeb Credyd Gorllewin Cymru. Mae’r Undeb Credyd wedi ehangu’n sylweddol o’i ganolfan yn Aberteifi ac mae bellach yn ymestyn dros Geredigion, Sir Benfro a Sir Gaerfyrddin. Gallwch gael rhagor o wybodaeth ar http://www.wwcu.co.uk. Gall yr enghreifftiau hyn o fentrau cydweithredol yn cydweithio mewn modd o’r fath arwain at ganlyniadau cadarnhaol i unigolion, cymunedau a’r gymdeithas yn gyffredinol. Hir oes i’r cydweithio hwn!

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

October 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

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