Leeds credit union helps cure Christmas cash ‘hangover’

An �85,000 reward is up for grabs after the crime.

An �85,000 reward is up for grabs after the crime.

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Leeds Credit Union had its biggest year ever in the lead up to Christmas, lending £3.2m to struggling families to help them cope with the festive financial burden.

The figure, says the organisation, is a 10 per cent increase on the previous year and it is claimed it helped families save up to £1.5m in interest payments last year compared to borrowing from doorstep lenders.

Chris Smyth, chief executive, said: “I am extremely pleased that the credit union has been able to help families to save £1.5 million in interest charges in the run up to Christmas.

“We understand that many people have to borrow in the run up to Christmas but at least those that came to the credit union for a loan received extremely good value.

“Unfortunately those who borrowed from a high cost lender such as a money shop or pay day loan company will be paying an excessive amount of interest for their loan and will be waking up to a real headache in the New Year.”

He added: “The message is now getting through that credit unions offer a far better deal for many.”

Leeds Credit Union is a financial co-operative set up to give members access to affordable loans.

It has 37,000 members and triple the number it had a decade ago. It operates eight branches across Leeds and Wakefield and has 50 staff.

The organisation is aiming to build its loan book to £20m to try and make a real impact on the estimated £90m high cost lending market in Leeds.

The union has been a key part of Leeds’ high profile and trailblazing efforts to tackle the payday loan and illegal lending market, which has burgeoned in the past few years since the economic downturn.

As reported in the YEP previously, Leeds City Council bosses have signed a new long-term partnership with the credit union. As part of the new enhanced deal, the council has extended the repayment terms of a previous £1m loan to Leeds City Credit Union to 10 years, from the three years left on the current agreement.

The two organisations will also team up on a raft of new initiatives to help some of the city’s neediest families.