Thursday, 17 August 2017

John’s Blog - August

Well, the holiday season is in full swing here in East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire but the weather hasn’t exactly got the message, as we have had some terrific downpours.  Still, it’s been good for the gardens and the vegetable plot at the CEO household is promising a bumper crop!

Whatever you are doing this summer, hope you’re enjoying yourself.


Here at HEYCU we are delighted with the response to our Sizzling Summer Loan Sale.  This is the second year that we have run this campaign, featuring an amazing 3.5% APR rate on loans from £5,000 to £15,000, with repayment periods up to 7 years.    This year, our total lending is up 25% compared with last year, and that’s from new members as well as those who have been with us for some time.

If you have a major project such as home or garden improvements, a new car, family celebration or a  “holiday of a lifetime”, where it would make sense to spread the cost over a longer period, why not give us a try?    You don’t have to bank with us to qualify for a Credit Union Loan, so why bother with your bank when we have such an appealing offer?   Pop over to our website where there’s an easy-to-use Loan calculator showing some guideline quotations.

Remember, with a Credit Union Loan, there are no set up fees, no penalties if you want to settle early, and you only ever pay interest on the reducing balance.  What’s more we are one of only a few lenders in the UK to be awarded the 5-star Fairbanking Mark.

You’ll have to be quick, though, as the Loan Sale will definitely finish at the end of August.


Recently, I took a tour round our branches and it was fantastic to see all the activity going on, with staff and volunteers not only busy serving our members but also helping with events to support the communities where we trade.

Goole Branch had a very successful Cupcake Day on 14 July which raised £100 for the Alzheimer’s Society.   When I arrived the branch counter was groaning under the weight of plates of delicious cupcakes, many donated by local bakeries, supermarkets and friends to support our event.   Penny the penny-wise Penguin was busy keeping visitors – young and old – entertained, and we even had a class from St Joseph’s RC Primary School, along with their teachers, drop in for a tasty treat.  We’re thrilled that they are going to open a Pennies2Pounds school bank there in September.

Withernsea Branch was next on my list, and even though I picked the rainiest day of the year for my seaside trip, the Shores Centre was bustling and my catch up with Mareth and Malcolm, our hard working volunteers, had to be squeezed in between serving members.  However, I did manage a chat with Jayne Nendick, the very pro-active Shores manager, who always seems to be hatching some new scheme to make life better for the residents of this friendly town.

I visited Driffield Branch with staff colleague Jamie-Leigh, on the day when our Local Members’ Group met, and we enjoyed a good discussion about the School Banks, which this branch pioneered as long ago as 2005.  With relatively new volunteers Audrey and Debbie now co-ordinating this work, we wanted to make sure the support from Central Office is as effective as possible.  Each school running a Pennies 2 Pounds club will therefore receive a termly newsletter and a list of resources they can order such as piggy banks, saver cards, “I saved today” stickers and certificates to mark savings milestones for handing out in school assemblies. 

Another Wednesday it was over to Howden to see how our latest contact point is doing.  The answer was “pretty well” as we’ve now been up and running in the large Co-op Store for eight weeks, and every week we’ve had some new residents signing up to become Credit Union Members.  It’s clearly a very co-operatively-minded town because many of the new members have commented how pleased they are to see the Credit Union coming to Howden, because it’s “not-for-profit” unlike any other bank.   What an interesting place it is; you only have to take a look at the local monthly magazine, Howden Matters (edited by one of our keen new members), it’s jam packed with news of events and happenings – and we are in the August edition!


On 2nd August our Scunthorpe branch colleagues Tracey and Sarah attended the Ongo Carnival to run a Credit Union promotional table and enjoyed meeting the families who came along, as well as the Ongo staff, many of whom save with us via popular payroll deduction.  They received quite a number of enquiries, especially about our Child Benefit Savings and Loan Plan, and gave out some loan quotations.  A competition to guess the amount of money saved in a piggy bank provided some fun for adults and children on the Westcliffe Estate and the two lucky winners received Say Shopping gift vouchers.

Carnival events are clearly a much loved feature of the English summer, for we were recently involved in another one, this time on the Greatfield Estate in Hull where we have a Wednesday contact point at Elmbridge Parade Co-op, supported by Greatfield Big Local project.  It was Greatfield’s 60th Anniversary and to mark the occasion (some residents have lived there since the houses were built), a Carnival Parade wended its way from St Hilda’s Church to St Stephen’s Church, where an afternoon of fun took place.  The “battle” between Sid the Shark (our friendly mascot from the Stop Loan Sharks Team) and a giant Money Spider created by the children of a local primary school was a great piece of entertainment!


One outcome of the Barclays Credit Union Project that we took part in earlier this year was the production of a useful Budget Planner, now available free of charge from any of our branches. 

Money management is essential whether you’re in debt or just juggling your regular household budget.  The planner aims to help everyone to get an accurate picture of how much they spend each month, and how much they have coming in, so they can set goals for reducing spending, freeing up cash for unexpected expenses or coping well with credit without landing in unmanageable debt.

The Planner is full of money saving ideas and tips that everyone can put into practice to make them more money-savvy.  There’s also a list of useful organisations that can help anyone struggling to bring their household finances under control.  According to the Money Advice Service 1 in 3 households admit that they don’t set a budget to manage their regular bills.  52% of those that do budget say they do it for peace of mind.  And 32% budget to cope with the unexpected. 


I am always looking around for other co-operative businesses that our members might like to buy from, knowing that many of you are very keen to support the wider co-operative movement.
Arthur Street Trading is a workers’ co-operative with social objectives and aims. It was established in West Hull in the mid-1990s to provide affordable, high quality organic foods. 
Sourcing organic fruit, vegetables, wholefoods and other groceries from local growers and national suppliers, they have provided an award winning box scheme throughout Hull and district since 1999. They feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colours, flavours, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats, and food miles is always a priority - for many years they even used a solar powered milk float to make some deliveries!
Arthur’s  say: “We reinvest all profits back into the company to offer a fair price for our products so that they are more accessible for those on lower incomes, create jobs if we can, support local food projects, and support local growers. Buying from us means that you become a part of that positive energy.”    
To find out what’s available, or to place an order, visit


If you are one of our members who lives or works in Goole or Howdenshire (postcodes DN14, YO8 or HU15) we would love to see you at the launch of our Goole & District Local Members’ Group on Wednesday 13th September. 

The venue is the wonderful Lowther Hotel, Aire Street, Goole and members can arrive from 6 pm onwards for a 6.30 pm start.   There’ll be refreshments and a Prize Draw, and we’ll be sharing news with you of your Credit Union’s progress and celebrating the first 8 years of our Goole Branch. 

As Credit Union members, you are our future.  Over the past 8 years we have grown our membership in the area to nearly 1,000 adult and junior savers and borrowers.  But we need your ideas and suggestions to help us make the next 8 years even more successful.   It will be an informal and friendly evening and we are looking forward to meeting our members.   Call 01405 854564 or email to accept the invitation.


The Financial Conduct Authority recently published the findings of its review of high-cost credit.  It looked at the payday lending cap and the wider high-cost credit market, including rent-to-own, home credit, catalogues, unarranged overdrafts and motor finance.  Matt Bland, Head of Policy and Compliance at ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions) talked about the positive steps made by this review:  “Given the role credit unions play in disrupting the activities of these kinds of lenders, and the many tales of credit unions helping consumers piece their lives back together after falling foul of unscrupulous lenders, ABCUL has consistently supported the payday lending cap.  We highlighted the positive effect it has had on reducing consumer harm, further suggesting that similar measures were needed in other high-cost credit markets.”

 While there had been some speculation that the FCA was planning to water down the payday lending cap, we were very pleased to see it confirm that it …. plans on keeping it as it is until at least 2020. This is after receiving overwhelming evidence that it results in better outcomes for borrowers.

We were also pleased to see that the FCA will be publishing proposals for tighter regulation of rent-to-own, home credit and unarranged overdrafts in 2018. Particularly interesting is the commitment from FCA to look at why more affordable alternatives, such as credit unions, are not better able to meet demand in these markets. This may create an opportunity to discuss some of the regulatory barriers that credit unions face in expanding services more quickly.”

Good news indeed.