It's all happening at Bishop Burton College
On Tuesday 14 July, Carmel, our school project officer attended a meeting at Bishop Burton College arranged by Marc Hall, East Riding Senior Policy Officer and John Harrison, IAG and Employability Officer, to discuss setting up a savings club for their students and staff. Many of the students live on the college campus throughout their course and would welcome the opportunity to manage their money at a convenient contact point.
The first consideration was whether students attending a college in East Yorkshire would be within our common bond. We were delighted to confirm that students do indeed qualify for membership and can remain members for life.
At a recent college Volunteers Fair, students from the Business Studies Department were keen to learn how they might become involved with our Credit Union to gain work experience. They were pleased to discover that volunteering with us would give them access to accredited training to enhance their CVs and practical application of financial skills gained on their course.
Their enthusiasm didn't go un-noticed by college staff. The seeds for a new project were sown! Business Studies courses impart the skills graduates need to set up in businesses ranging from agriculture to tourism. Students learn about start-ups, preparing business plans, working capital and accounts.
Marc Hall had heard about our Business Start-Up Loan and thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to an ethical and trusted source of finance. The volunteer application process would allow them to experience recruitment and all it entails - preparing for interviews, providing references, induction and codes of conduct.
Marc and John also felt that parents would welcome a secure means of providing money for their son’s and daughter’s living expenses during their stay on campus. Our Prepaid Debit Card allows students to purchase books and resources on-line and to pay for day to day expenses. Parents could control student spending to the limit pre-loaded onto the cards and of course, the students would have to budget carefully to avoid the Bank of Mum and Dad finding out that their allowance had been used up during Fresher’s Week!
We have been invited to a forthcoming event when students and their parents will have the opportunity to learn more about our Credit Union during their induction to college. College staff, meanwhile, are already asking about Christmas Saver Accounts. Fortunately we already have payroll deduction arrangements in place with the College to help them save up painlessly!
School competition proves a big success
This year's Pennies 2 Pounds Summer Competition was a great success and I'd like to say "well done" to everyone who entered! We were overwhelmed with some fantastic entries and it was difficult to choose the winners. The winners, who received certificates and shopping vouchers, were Kintija Stivka and Emilia Luczka (Boothferry Primary School); Voilet Recchia and Gabriella Becker (St Joseph's RC Primary School); Alfie Taylor (Reedness Primary School); Miah Stafford (Parkside Primary School); Alexander Watt (Roos Primary School) and Bethany Middlewood (Driffield Infants School). Well done to all the runners up too; we hope you all enjoy your chocolate coins!
Northern Linconshire Members' Committee
Our latest members' committee held its inaugural meeting on 9 July, with Kate, Mike, Len, Andrew, David and Richard being there at the "birth". The Committee decided to operate fairly informally, to encourage members to play a full part in its discussions and importantly, to enjoy their participation.
The Committee was pleased to hear of the efforts being made to develop the Credit Union's business in the area since the merger, with many meetings held to promote our services to local organisations. Members had also flown the flag for us at Winterton Show. The CU Prepaid Debit Card is now available to members in Northern Lincolnshire and interest from members old and new is developing.
Committee members also suggested some improvements to our loan application forms and felt it would be a good idea to publicise the Committee’s existence in the High Street branch, along with dates and times of future meetings. Hopefully this will encourage more members to either attend meetings or pass on their thoughts and ideas to committee members.
If you are a member living or working in Northern Lincolnshire, we'd love you to get involved with our new Members' Committee. The next meeting is at the branch (162 High Street, Scunthorpe) on Thursday 13 August at 7.00 pm.
Avoiding Telephone Bank Fraud
Sadly, we are reading more in the press these days of people falling victim to telephone banking fraud. We'd hate to think that any of our members might suffer this crime, so here’s a few tips to help everyone recognise the threat and take steps to protect themselves.
If someone phones you and does any of the following, they are unlikely to be genuine:
• Asks for your personal and financial information, including your full security details;
• Tells you that fraud has been detected on your account;
• Asks you to transfer money into another account - your bank and the police will NEVER ask you to do this;
• Suggests that you hang up and call the "official bank phone number" - by not hanging up themselves, they can be sure that you will be reconnected directly with them again;
• Asks you to enter your PIN into the handset. This sounds like a security measure, but the fraudster is actually stealing your PIN and no bank would ask you to do that.
• Asks you to put your card and PIN into envelopes to be collected - your bank would NEVER collect your card in person.
Do not agree to the callers requests. If in doubt, inform your bank or the police.
Credit unions and financial inclusion
A question sometimes asked is "what does the Credit Union do to promote financial inclusion?"
Before I attempt to answer, let's get some definitions out of the way:
According to Transact, the national forum for financial inclusion, financial inclusion is achieved when people have access to appropriate, desired financial products and services to manage their money effectively, and when they have "financial capability" - that is, they understand about financial products, and can use them with confidence and motivation.
Relatively few people are totally "financially excluded" but research and experience shows that those groups in society that are most likely to experience financial exclusion are:
• Lone parents;
• Long term unemployed;
• Long term sick or disabled;
• Lone pensioners, particularly widows;
• Households headed by students or part-time workers;
• Residents in geographically remote locations;
• Migrants or those with low levels of English or poor communications skills.
Why does it matter? Well, financial exclusion costs money! Without a functioning bank account, those affected pay more to cash a cheque, pay a bill and buy goods and services. As they can't access an authorised overdraft, credit costs considerably more, and insurance may be out of reach. These extra costs - referred to as the "poverty premium" - were estimated in 2007 to waste around 9% of the disposable income of a family of four.
So, what is HEYCU doing to help? Well, as a not-for-profit organsation owned by our members, you'd expect us to be passionate about promoting financial inclusion, while accepting of course that there are some limitations imposed by regulators and that we can't change the world all by ourselves. But here are a few examples:
• Between 2006 and 2012 under the DWP Growth Fund we issued over 15,000 affordable small loans to people who had previously struggled to obtain credit cheaper than offered by doorstep lenders (250% APR and above). With our interest rate capped at 2% per month (26.8% APR), the DWP estimated that we saved families in our region over £5 million in interest charges and, since the scheme ended, we’ve continued to lend, despite barely covering the cost of doing so.
• In 2007 we were a pioneer of the Credit Union Current Account, which helped over 2,500 members to get a proper bank account for the first time, paving the way for them to use Direct Debits and standing orders, and obtain cash at ATMs, for a low weekly fee.
• We introduced a Prepaid Debit Card to help people access online shopping and budget effectively without the risk of going overdrawn.
• In 2014 and 2015 we've run highly successful incentive-based Christmas Saver campaigns, targeted at small savers and low income families, to help them plan ahead for the festive spending burst, while minimising the need to take out expensive short term loans;
• Our School Bank project is an investment in the future, opening up access to saving for the next generation, as well as their families, helping them to achieve the best possible start to adult life.
• With partner organisations we have developed a Jam Jar budgeting account to help families to cope with the impact of the new state benefit, Universal Credit.
These are just a few examples of initiatives taken and the way we are working with key partners, and our members, to promote financial inclusion in our region.
Member Survey 2015
There's just a couple of weeks left to take part in this year's Member Satisfaction Survey. I am delighted that we've had a great response already this year (higher than last year), especially with paper copies in our branches. But we'd like to hear from as many members as possible, as you are the reason why we are here!
So, if you haven't taken part, please do so before 31 July. You can fill in the electronic survey on our website or, if you'd rather, pick up a paper version in branch and pop it in the box when completed. You'd not only be helping us, you might be the lucky winner of a £50 prize!
Have you considered one of our Prepaid VISA cards?
Need a VISA card to use online or in-store? Our Prepaid Card is an excellent alternative to carrying cash.