Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Getting fed up with High Street banks? There is an alternative

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There is an alternative to High Street banks – credit unions.

Once thought of as a ‘poor man’s bank’, Christina Stoneman, general manager of Dragon Savers Credit Union says they are now seen as a people’s bank.

She believes the benefits of credit unions are still not widely known. “We feel we’re the best kept secret in banking.”

“People come to us saying they’ve had enough of the banks now, they’re looking for alternatives.”

Denis Greenall of Dragon Savers Credit Union says that use of credit unions in Wales has increased during the economic downturn.

He said: “Our offices are directly opposite a High Street bank and when the wheels started to come off, we could see people were walking into the bank over the road taking the money out and bringing it into the credit union office.”

Mr Greenall said credit unions were more conscientious providers of money, and as a result they have been strongly supported by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Credit unions are co-operatives that provide savings accounts and loans.

They are owned and controlled by their members and aim to provide support for underprivileged people unable to secure loans from mainstream banks.

Credit union membership in Wales grew from 11,000 in 2000 to over 43,000 in 2007 and there are now 29 Welsh credit unions, according to the Welsh Assembly Government.

According to the Association of British Credit Unions, a culture of easy credit is responsible for escalating debt repayments.

A spokesperson said: “I think people have been encouraged to borrow above what they can afford and for things that were not essential.

“Credit unions are trying to get people to manage their money.

“They have a fundamental education role as well as providing money.”

Find out more about Credit Unions on the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website.

Become more co-operative during Co-operatives Fortnight.

Original article BBC Wales news

Written by C Kenzie

May 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Posted in co-operatives

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