Savings call as Blackpool credit union expands

Credit Union in Blackpool.  Pictured are Andrew Moulding and Maria Brookes.
Credit Union in Blackpool. Pictured are Andrew Moulding and Maria Brookes.
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An organisation which helps the poorest people avoid debts is urging businesses and organisations to join their savings group.

And the Credit Union of Blackpool has expanded into Preston and aims to expand their services and get across the message that they are not just there for people in debt.

The two not-for-profit organisations, both run by the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union, say they would like more businesses, healthcare and educational establishments to offer their staff the chance to save money with them direct from their wages.

They say that too many people think a credit union is all about helping the poorest people and those with huge debts only but now services have expanded over recent years and as well as personal loans they now offer competitive rates for regular savers.

Operations director Mike Barry said: “People still think credit unions are about a group of people with a big book and a tin full of fivers.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. We are set up like any other high street bank. The only difference is we do not offer current accounts.

“But if you look at our branch it has a counter, interview rooms like any bank and the staff are professional and have uniforms.

“Yes, we still deal with people with debts and people unable to get credit, but we also offer savings accounts suitable for anybody and at competitive rates better in many cases than a high street bank.”

He said the Blackpool Credit Union started in 2009 at Blackpool Council offices and had gone from strength to strength.

In 2014 it opened its new high street premises in Birley Street.

He said: “We chose Birley Street because there were banks nearby already and two loan shops.

“The loan shops have now both closed down, hopefully thanks to us offering people a better way out of debt.

“We now have more than 5,000 members and six staff here and have just expanded to offer services in Preston called GuildMoney with the help of Preston Council.

“Just like Blackpool Council they offered us space at the Town Hall to get started and we hope to replicate what we have done here and eventually get our own high street branch there.

“Preston’s previous credit union closed down in 2008 and Preston Council approached us a while ago to see if we could help get it going again. It opened up to the general public this autumn.”

But he said the group was hoping to get more people saving with them to further grow the range of services they could offer.

He said: “We have 35 employers who offer their staff access to payroll deductions for a savings account with us, four colleges and several NHS organisations. We need more to join us so we can expand the services we offer to everyone. We cannot do current accounts like a standard bank, but we do have membership cards and online savings accounts. We are trying to modernise the whole credit union offering.”

Cabinet member for social justice, inclusion and policy at Preston City Council, Councillor Matthew Brown, said: “Credit unions are there for everyone and to have access to responsible savings and affordable credit through a successful and growing Credit Union can only benefit the people of Preston.”

“By working with a very well established credit union like Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, the council can ensure that GuildMoney – Preston’s new credit union – will help build a culture of financial inclusion in Preston.”