Thursday, 30 April 2015

w/c 27 April 2015

Scunthorpe Branch sports a new look
With the merger of North Lincolnshire Credit Union now a legal fact, we moved quickly to rebrand our latest branch in Scunthorpe High Street with a fresh new look.  We are trading there as Northern* Lincolnshire Credit Union (part of HEYCU), but using our popular well-established colour scheme and logo, as illustrated by the cheerful new fascia sign and window posters that you can view on our website and Facebook page.   Within the branch our product literature and signage has all been changed over to the new brand too.

Many thanks to David and Richard for their expert handywork fixing up the new poster frames etc and to Melisa for her design skills and keeping everyone on track!  On the day several members commented on how smart it all looked.

* a subtle name change, but intended to show that we can serve people who live or work across the region not just in one Council area.

Driffield Members make two presentations
Congratulations to the members of our Driffield Branch Committee who organised their annual quiz evening to raise funds for two good causes.   Representatives of the two organisations - Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the MacMillan Nurses - attended the branch meeting to receive cheques for £200 each.   A great effort and positive proof that the Credit Union is a valued member of the community it serves.

Matched Loans prove popular
We’re delighted with the response to our newest loan product, the Matched Loan.  Take up has been good in the short time it’s been available.   Matched Loans are for members who have at least £1,000 in their savings that they are prepared to secure (ie not withdraw) to take out an equivalent loan for up to five years.  As these loans are secured, they can be arranged instantly just by visiting a branch and completing a very simple form.  No credit checks are needed and the interest rate is a very appealing 4% APR.

If you’ saved up more than £1,000 with us and need quick access to finance but don't want to dip into your savings, this is the loan for you.  It can also help members to build their credit rating.

Promoting saving by payroll at the HICA Group
Last time I mentioned Hull College joining the growing ranks of employers willing to let their staff save with us by direct payroll deduction.

This week I met with our friends at the HICA Group, one of the region's leading care home and domiciliary care organisations, to plan a new campaign to encourage more of their employees to save and borrow with us in the same way.  We look forward to rolling this out soon and welcoming them into membership.

Save money on your energy bill
Hull City Council is currently operating a new round of the collective energy switching scheme ‘Energy Switch.  Since piloting the scheme in 2013 thousands of people have reduced their energy bills by registering their interest via the City Council website, calling 01482 300300 or visiting a Customer Service Centre.

Energy Switch works by aggregating groups of people and presenting them to the energy market on one day; energy companies then bid against each other based upon the volume of customers they stand to gain. The scheme is now performing better than ever, with 99% of people who register receiving a cheaper quote, and the average yearly saving per household in Hull now averaging a very worthwhile £270. Changes within the energy market in 2014 have resulted in market leading offers on the last three auctions that have been held across the country.

We are working with Hull City Council to make our members aware of this opportunity.    Residents and small businesses can register their details (with no obligation to switch) by 18 May.    Please note it is open to prepayment meter users as well as other consumers.

Find out more here:
It's a great chance to save some of your hard earned cash - so what have you got to lose?

The General Election is fast approaching
Bearing in mind that in less than a week we'll be heading to the polling stations to choose our MPs and the next Government, I've been taking a peek at some of the party manifestos to see what, if anything, they have to say about Credit Unions.

Our trade association, ABCUL, has been working hard over the years to ensure that all the main political parties support the development of the credit union movement and has been very successful.   This work has borne fruit as the policy statements and commitments were unveiled recently.

Labour was first off the blocks with their manifesto, which reaffirmed their support in its section on small business:  "We will increase competition (between banks) on the high street.... we want a market share test and at least two new challenger banks.  And we will deal with the scourge of household debt by introducing a new levy on payday lenders, using the funds raised to boost low-cost alternatives like credit unions".

The Conservatives made the following commitment to our sector within their section on banking entitled "We will make the banks work for you":  "We capped payday lenders, made it easier for you to switch your bank account and will continue to support the credit union movement in making financial services more accessible."

We also featured in the Greens manifesto under their Finance section which boldly begins with "The UK finance industry is a disaster area.  Far from generating genuine wealth, its recklessness and greed created the greatest recession since the 1930s, which in turn contributed to the present regime of austerity and cuts to public services.   We would . . . invest £2 billion in a network of community banks, mutually owned and serving local areas or particular groups. "

The manifesto quotes an example of how the Green-led administration in Brighton invested £100,000 in a local credit union, partly to help it set up an online systems for residents to access loans, making the credit union as accessible as high-interest payday lenders. It also banned such lenders from advertising on Council billboards.

Blantyre Savvy Savers project
It was good to read about another credit union that believes, like we do, that children are the future and should be encouraged to catch the savings habit early.  The Blantyre and South Lanarkshire Credit Union, to the south-east of Glasgow, has a long history of running school collection points.  In 2011 it got on board with the Scottish Government's initiative to bring credit unions into schools with its Savvy Savers scheme, and now has over 5,000 active junior accounts holding £550,000 in savings, ranged over 70 schools.  They are currently promoting adult membership through schools with a Recommend a Friend scheme, which gives them free credit union membership.  

We are doing similar work with our schools in Driffield, Goole, Holderness and Haltemprice, with the support of East Riding of Yorkshire Council which is helping more families to discover our "fairer alternative".   Wouldn't it be great if our Government funded the development of a school bank in every English primary school?  Now, there's an idea for those party manifestos . . . 

First Saver Accounts
To give your children or grandchildren the best possible start in life - why not open them one of our First Saver accounts?

Tour de Yorkshire
As I write these notes, Hull City have just scored a magnificent win over Liverpool to take them one step futher on their journey to Premier League survival, after a topsy turvy season, so well done to them!   There’ll be more top sporting activity this Friday when the first ever Tour de Yorkshire cycle race makes its “grand depart” from beautiful Bridlington.   If you are going along to watch the action, do pop into our branch in Prospect Street and say hello to “our local team”.

Whatever you’re doing, have a great Bank Holiday weekend!

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