Credit union sees huge growth as austerity continues to bite

from left to right: Sid Rooke (Director of the North East First Credit Union), Joyce Lovack (Shotton Residents Association), Councillor Edna Connor (Horden Youth and Community Centre), Alan Miller (Vice Chair East Durham Area Action Partnership), Malcolm Fallow (CEO of East Durham Trust).
from left to right: Sid Rooke (Director of the North East First Credit Union), Joyce Lovack (Shotton Residents Association), Councillor Edna Connor (Horden Youth and Community Centre), Alan Miller (Vice Chair East Durham Area Action Partnership), Malcolm Fallow (CEO of East Durham Trust).

More than 600 more people have signed up for a credit union in the last year as austerity continues to bite.

The in-demand North East First Credit Union has seen membership numbers soar and organisers put it down to public spending cuts which have had a huge impact.

We’re living in times of austerity and public spending cuts which have a devastating impact on people’s financial wellbeing. The credit union has a role to play in helping people to avoid the poverty trap

Malcolm Fallow

There’s been a huge increase in membership thanks to partnership arrangements with the East Durham Area Action Partnership and local charity East Durham Trust.

The union also told how it has now reached the milestone of making more than £500,000 in loans to residents of East Durham.

Credit unions offer an alternative to traditional high street banks and, as non-profit organisations, can offer far more competitive rates of interest than alternatives such as pay day lenders and finance companies.

Throughout last year, a team of volunteers were recruited and several new collection points were set up in local community venues in former mining communities such as Shotton and Wingate.

More than 600 additional members have joined the Credit Union and are now saving regularly.

County Durham has an overall membership of 10,800 with 2,300 being in the East Durham area, including the 600 new recruits.

Chief executive of East Durham Trust, Malcolm Fallow, said: “We are living in times of austerity and public spending cuts which are having a devastating impact on people’s financial wellbeing.

“The credit union clearly has a role to play in helping people to avoid the poverty trap.”

Alan Napier, deputy leader of Durham County Council which supported the campaign through the Area Action Partnership, said: “Household debt stands at £1.6 trillion across the UK. Inflation has risen to 1.6%, with many households finding it difficult to keep pace with the cost of living.

“Reaching £500,000 is a significant milestone and our credit union will continue be a huge benefit to some of the most financially vulnerable within our society.”

East Durham Trust aims to promote the regeneration of rural and urban areas affected by social and economic decline.

For further information on the credit union, contact 0330 055 3666.