Leeds Credit Union launches £17m loan pot to support vulnerable people over Christmas

The head office of Leeds Credit UnionThe head office of Leeds Credit Union
The head office of Leeds Credit Union
Leeds Credit Union has launched a £17m loan pot to support people who may struggle financially this Christmas due to COVID-19.

The union is determined to ensure vulnerable Leeds residents don’t become victims of loan sharks because of their financial problems.

The organisation has carried out a survey which concluded that more than 76 per cent of its members had changed their Christmas plans due to the pandemic, with 35 per cent saying they have been affected significantly by the crisis.

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In a statement, the credit union said: “Following a week of Government decisions - which are set to shape how the country operates over the next six months - the credit union has announced the findings of a survey of its 37,000 members, looking at how the ongoing pandemic is impacting this year’s festive period.

“With the majority of respondents saying they usually spend between £500 to £1,000 on Christmas, this year 43 per cent of those surveyed said they will be spending less this year.

“And where they will be shopping has shifted too, with members five times more likely to now use online retailers rather than high street shops.”

The spokesman added: “Having saved members £1.8 million in high-interest repayments during the run up to last year’s festive period, LCU is determined to ensure those struggling to cope financially this Christmas, don’t turn to unethical payday, doorstep or loan shark lenders.”

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The credit union’s £17m loan pot will be available for the next three months.

Chris Smyth, the chief executive at Leeds Credit Union, said: “Undeniably, we are living in a time of never before seen uncertainty, with many finding themselves in unexpected financial difficulties.

“It has never been more important that as a credit union, we step up and ensure as many people as possible across the region have access to affordable and ethical borrowing, and that they are kept away from those looking to take advantage of the situation.”

Mr Smyth added: “With so many of our members highlighting that COVID-19 has impacted their Christmas plans this year, we are determined to offer them the certainty of flexible and fair loans, and the launch of our £17m Christmas pot is the biggest amount we have ever set aside to help those who need it most.”