It’s time to celebrate Co-operatives Fortnight!
The next two weeks (20 June to 4 July) are Co-operatives Fortnight, an annual celebration designed to reveal to everyone the strength and diversity of the co-op sector of the UK economy. What’s this got to do with our Credit Union, you may ask. Well, credit unions are co-operatives.
From high street retailers to community owned pubs, fan-owned football clubs to farmer-controlled businesses, co-operatives are everywhere. There are over 6,000 across the UK and together they contribute a staggering £37 billion to the British economy.
Often co-operatives look like any other business. What makes them unique is that they are owned and run by ordinary people. Not investors or fat-cat shareholders, but people like you and me – customers, employees, residents, farmers, artists, taxi drivers . . .
Each member of a co-operative has an equal say in how the business is run and shares in its profits. Globally, co-operatives give nearly one billion people control things that matter to them.
It’s no surprise that co-operatives are local, loved and trusted and we at Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union are proud to be one.
It’s the ethics that count
Continuing on a similar theme, I was interested in recent comments by Sir Stuart Hampson, who was 14 years at the helm of one of Britain’s most successful businesses, the John Lewis Partnership (a firm owned entirely by its workers). Sir Stuart argued that it was outdated to think businesses could choose to focus either on ethics or on profit as a route to success. He said progressive firms understood that the only way to achieve long term sustainability was by being a business recognised for its strong ethics and values.
When asked what ethics contributed to a positive culture, he said the key thing was to act with integrity at all times. By doing so, admitting when it was wrong and doing its best to put things right, John Lewis had earned tremendous trust from its customers. During the economic downturn they continued shopping there, knowing they could rely on it, while other firms lost ground. It’s a powerful message and one that we know many credit union members feel passionate about.
School banks update
Our latest Pennies 2 Pounds School Bank has got off to an excellent start at Spring Cottage Primary School, Sutton-on-Hull. The Year 5s are saving up for their final school trip at the end of next year, which can be a big outlay for families, so the savings facility is a great help. Our fabulous team of volunteer helpers includes two year 5 pupils. The school is very keen on financial education and they seem a “money savvy” bunch, with one pupil insisting on doing some research on our Credit Union to make sure his savings would be safe before depositing any money (quite right too!). Another young helper asked Mum to take her into town to visit the Credit Union bank and check it out (we will give her a guided tour).
Meanwhile the St. Marks Pre-School at Anlaby P2P, now in its second week, is doing well with lots of children filling their money boxes. There’s a bit of competition going on between the adult and junior savers apparently, but the juniors are streets ahead as they’re busy collecting up any loose change they find around the house!
Schools Summer Competition
Our schools competition for the children at Pennies 2 Pounds Clubs is now open to enter, so why not have a go, there's some good prizes to be won. There's a separate competition for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils - just make sure the entries are handed in to your school bank or children's centre by Friday 3 July.
Payroll partner campaign
We recently launched a campaign to recruit more local businesses to become Payroll Partners. Payroll partners are firms who let their workers save with us straight from their wages.
It's a worthwhile staff benefit helping working people to manage their money well by putting aside some regular savings each time they get paid. They can also repay any credit union loans (privately) the same way. As the money comes out at source, the employee doesn't miss it, and before long they've built up an amazing nest egg – just right for Christmas, holidays or just a rainy day. It's also ideal for "secret saving" (don’t tell the partner!) for that family celebration or holiday of a lifetime!
Existing payroll partners include Hull City Council, the HICA Group, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull College Group - with hundreds of staff using the service to great effect. But we’re keen to have more. Payroll savers are good with money, but also happy, unstressed workers.
Through Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, we've sent an invitation to over 1,400 employers in the Humber Region to get in touch about offering this service. It's easy to operate, and costs the firm next to nothing, like any deduction schemes. If you are an employer, please call us or email to request a Payroll Partner Information pack. And if you work for a firm that doesn’t offer the service yet, why not ask your HR people to consider it?
North Lincolnshire Homes (part of Ongo Partnership)
One of our newest payroll partners invited us in for a sign up day at Meridian House, Scunthorpe last Monday. It was a big success, with a great response from those who dropped in. Even the manager joined, taking advantage of the special offer on our Christmas Saver account to match the first deposit up to £10 (open until 31 July).
Quite a number of colleagues also signed up to be Credit Union Champions. This means they'll get our monthly newsletter with all the latest CU information to share with their workmates. It's perfect for pinning up on staff notice boards to encourage others to join.
We look forward to the next sign up day at Crosby Employment on 25 June.
Business Start-up Loans up and running
This week we’ve also launched our new Business Start-up Loan product. Offered in partnership with Leeds City Credit Union and the Start-up Loans Company, we now have something to appeal to people across the Humber Region who are planning a new business venture, or run a business within its first two years of trading.
Business Start-up Loans can be for up to £25,000, depending on how many people are involved in the business and are repayable over up to 5 years with an interest rate of 6.19% APR. The loan comes with free business mentoring, advice and access to special offers.
All kinds of businesses can apply, so whether you are planning to open a shop or café, or a budding designer, baker, hairdresser or joiner needing some equipment to get going, this could be the help you are looking for. To allow us to consider your plans, you’ll need to let us see your business plan and cash flow forecast. Take a look at our website which has samples of these documents.
So, come along, all you keen entrepreneurs in the Humber Region, we’re waiting to hear from you!
Our low-cost Freedom Loan offers a helping hand
With the summer finally here, perhaps it’s time for a nice little holiday. Would a Credit Union Freedom Loan help? Remember, we offer the best deal around on small loans (check our Loan Calculator if you don’t believe me)!