Wednesday, 6 June 2018

JOHN’S BLOG – JUNE 2018


A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEBT NEEDS YOU!
Do you remember the very successful morning BBC series TV last autumn called ‘A Matter of Life and Debt’?   This uplifting and positive series highlighted the important work done by credit unions up and down the country, as they helped people find loans to enrich or change their lives.
Well, it is returning to our screens in the autumn and the producers are looking for people to take part.  They would love to hear from you if you have:
·         taken out a loan in the past when you were in desperate need and wish to share your experience;
·         are planning on taking out a loan soon to bring about a positive change in your life; or
·         managed to overcome your debt problems with the help of the credit union and started saving as a result.
If you are interested in taking part, please send your contact details and a brief description of your story to the following email: lifeanddebt@curvemedia.comOr call the production team at Curve Media on 02920 329135.    If you prefer, you can speak to us here at the credit union and we can put you in touch. 

KEN FOSTER – ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS
We were sorry to learn of the recent death of Ken Foster, one of the founders of North Lincolnshire Credit Union.  Our Scunthorpe Branch activists have penned this tribute:
“Ken first became involved with the world of credit unions when he responded to an advertisement in the Scunthorpe Telegraph sponsored by North Lincolnshire Council, appealing for people to set up a steering group with a view to developing a Credit Union in Scunthorpe.
Ken was subsequently elected Chairman of the steering group and was passionate about pushing forward the development of a Credit Union as he could see the possible benefits for local people.  Everyone in the group attended intensive training sessions provided by the Co-operative College and Ken was enthusiastic about the training as it brought the dream closer.
European funding allowed the purchase of the shop on Scunthorpe High Street and Ken spent many hours utilising his skills as a retired builder in adapting the former furniture shop to the requirements of the Credit Union: he liaised with builders, building control and the fire service and ensured that the stringent regulatory requirements were met.
In 2002, a small community credit union – St George’s (Scunthorpe) – whose Board had joined the steering group, changed its name to North Lincolnshire Credit Union (NLCU) and extended its common bond to cover the whole county on a live or work basis, allowing it to trade. Ken was in his element trying to attract members and spent many hours and days sitting at the front desk, often alone, waiting for people to come in.
At the inaugural AGM of NLCU, Ken was elected Vice-President and he took his duties very seriously, promoting the credit union vociferously whenever and wherever he could. As NLCU grew, he always took his turn staffing the front desk, served on the credit and marketing committees, interviewed volunteers and sat on the personnel committee interviewing prospective staff.
As Ken’s health declined, his presence at the Credit Union diminished but he still came in on 2 or 3 days a week to assess loans, and was always very particular to check the person’s ability to repay.
Ken was fully behind the merger of NLCU with HEYCU in 2015 and offered many insightful thoughts on the way forward.
Sadly Ken’s health declined further and for the last two years he was unable to play an active part but he was always eager for news of the Credit Union and proud of the part that he had played in its development. 
After a long illness, Ken died on 26 May and HEYCU and we here at the Scunthorpe branch have lost a good friend. He will be greatly missed and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

WE WELCOME MOVES TO CAP HIGH COST CREDIT
As the Humber Region’s largest not-for-profit lender, we welcome the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s proposals to cap the cost of borrowing from rent-to-own, doorstep and other high cost sources of credit.  Here was my reaction to the news:
We are totally opposed to lenders exploiting consumers by charging exorbitant rates for the credit that people need in order to afford their lives. Leading vulnerable people into unsustainable debt in order to maximise profits for shareholders is not an acceptable practice in today’s society. Credit Unions have had a legal cap on their interest rates since 1979 but because of our not-for-profit ethos, we have no desire to charge more than it costs to run our organisation. Any surplus we do make is returned to our members as a bonus on their savings.

“Last year we were awarded a 5-star Fairbanking Mark by the Fairbanking Foundation in recognition of the efforts we make to support our members’ financial well-being. And in a recent study*, Credit Union loans were found to have the least serious impact on mental health whereas payday loans and unauthorised overdrafts had the worst.”
Since 1999 we estimate that we’ve saved our members over £13 million in interest charges compared to what they would have paid by taking similar credit from high cost providers.
The FCA has outlined a package of plans for rent-to-own, doorstep lending and catalogue shopping and says rent-to-own shops that sell appliances and furniture for small weekly repayments could face a price cap similar to the limits on payday lenders. It quoted examples where people have paid over £1,500 for essentials like an electric cooker which could be bought on the High Street for less than £300. It believes the harm caused in this market, used by three million people in the UK, is sufficient to justify considering a price cap.
We would like to remind members that our website has a link to the online Co-operative Electrical store which offers an impressive range of domestic appliances, TV, audio, computers, games and beds.  When taken with a Credit Union Loan the weekly payments are many times cheaper than those weekly payment stores referred to by the FCA.  Why not take a look?

* Royal Society for Public Health Report – Life on Debt Row:  https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/wellbeing/life-on-debt-row.html



NEW DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS
Over the last couple of months, you’ve probably been bombarded with messages from organisations that you have signed up with (and probably some that you haven’t) telling you how they plan to comply with the new data protection laws, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short).   So we won’t add to the burden.  But we do want to reassure our members that it’s Credit Union policy to take great care of your personal data, as you’d expect of an ethical member-owned organisation.  
We’ve recently updated our Privacy Policy (view here) and invited members to opt-in so that they continue to hear about our products, services, special offers and so on.  (Please note that, by law, we must send all members notices of our AGM and other membership information whether you opt in or not).  But we try not to overload you with contacts – one email newsletter per month is our usual practice.  And, of course, we never sell or pass on your personal data to other organisations for marketing purposes, because we know that most members wouldn’t be happy with that.   Rest assured, if you wish to opt out of marketing at any time, you only have to let us know and we will remove you from those lists.

VISITS TO DWP WORK SITES
Recently, I spent a day at the DWP Pension Centre at Seaham on the North-East coast, meeting groups of staff.  We’ve provided savings and loans by payroll deduction to over 1,200 DWP colleagues for nearly two years now, but my visits help to make more of them aware of this popular staff benefit and tie in well with the financial element of their Health & Wellbeing at Work initiative.
The day’s agenda included pre-arranged talks to groups of staff, who all seemed very interested in what I had to say.  Across lunch time, we had a stall in the foyer to catch anyone passing by for a quick chat, when I was accompanied by a colleague from the DWP Wellbeing Group, which helped to draw people into conversation.  The feedback from the day was very positive and 20 more members signed up:
“I found the session extremely informative and it gave me food for thought”
“John delivered the session clearly, without jargon, and fully explained what the credit union is about and what they can do for us”
“The fact that if you choose to save with them it comes straight off your pay makes it very easy to use”
“The loans they offer are comparable to a lot of High Street offerings”.
If any other DWP sites would like a visit, please contact info@hullandeycu.co.uk

STREET GAMES CLUB MEMBERS “IN THE MONEY”
We’ve been working with the Loan Sharks Team and a group of Street Games sports groups to give young people an opportunity to deposit money into a Junior Savers account each time they attend a session.   For many youngsters it’s the first time they’ve had an account in their own name and they love watching their savings grow.
At Andrew Marvell Youth Centre on Bilton Grange the organiser, Margaret Montgomery, says the project has proved very popular with both members and parents.
As a group, the issue of Loan Sharks or Illegal Moneylenders is explained to members. Because of all the media attention they do know a little about it, and the effects it has on people’s lives.
“We currently have over 20 regular savers and the response has been fantastic both from members and parents. Parents say it’s great because it’s easy to pay in at sessions. 
“We encourage members to save, not only for the initial 3 or 6 weeks but with a long term goal in mind.  Some for a school skiing trip next year or family occasions and treats.  The £25 Loan Shark bonus is a great incentive to start savings accounts. We have offered additional small incentives along the way if savings kept up.  We found that even though they bring 50p/£1 for their cards, members often put in change or unspent refreshment money as well.”
The £25 bonuses offered by the Illegal Money Lending Team are funded from Proceeds of Crime money confiscated from loan sharks, so it is very satisfying to see it doing some good by going back into the communities where the illegal lenders caused such misery.

NEWS FROM DRIFFIELD
During this Volunteers Week 2018 we’d like to pay tribute to two of our longest serving volunteers, upon their retirement.  Edwin King and Billy Briggs joined our Driffield branch shortly after its opening in 2005, and their enthusiasm, dedication, and regular commitment over the years was undoubtedly a major factor in its growth and development within the town. At a pleasant lunch held in the Original Keys Hotel, I said “thank you” for the considerable contribution volunteers like Edwin and Billy make to the success of our Credit Union.

LOAN SALE 2018 PROVES A BIG SUCCESS
Our Spring Loan Sale has proved more popular than ever before and lots of members have commented on how low our interest rates are compared with similar loans at the High Street banks.   As a result, our loan book is up by over 30% compared with the same period a year ago, and our members are benefiting from some great deals. 
Looking for a loan of £2000 to £7,500?   Apply before 15 June to be sure of 15% off the rate!  Find out more.