18 October 2013

Credit where it's due

£100, 000 will be invested over the next 2 years in the East Sussex Credit Union, (a local not for profit savings and loans co-operative), as part of the council’s new Financial Inclusion Strategy.

Credit Unions offer a chance to save and borrow ethically and a sensible option for those otherwise excluded from credit or bank accounts.  In fact, in some cases a Credit Union can be a cheaper credit alternative to mainstream banks for everyone. Membership provides a fairer alternative to the exorbitant interest rates charged by the ‘instant cash’ pay day loan companies, and members automatically become share-holders, ensuring ethical growth with benefits being fed back into the local community.  

Councillor Bill Randall, a member of the Credit Union for over 14 years, and Chair of Housing said: “Vulnerable people in Brighton & Hove are the hardest hit by welfare reforms and the signs of poverty are all around us. More and more people turning to pay day loan companies and loan sharks to survive, and the queues are lengthening at food banks across the city.”

This substantial Investment will enable our local credit union to make a real difference to those who have been reduced to appalling debt by these unscrupulous money lenders in the past.” 

£10,000 of the total amount from the council will be spent on improving technology to raise the profile of the East Sussex Credit Union and to make it more accessible so that members can now join and manage their account online. Visit the website at www.eastsussexcu.org.uk

Council Leader Jason Kitcat, who has pledged to be the first online customer, said: “At a time when so many people are facing financial difficulties, our local credit union is a real lifeline. I’m really pleased that as part of our financial inclusion programme, we’ve helped them develop this online tool, making the East Sussex Credit Union as accessible as other lenders. Now more people will be able to save and borrow from them, and in turn, more support will be on offer to friends and neighbours in our communities.” 

A photograph of Councillor Kitcat joining the East Sussex Credit Union is attached to this release.

President of East Sussex Credit Union, Richard Priestman said: “These are exciting times for us.  Thanks to this funding we can progress with our plans for growth and deliver our services to even more people within our local community”

The council is undertaking a huge range of work to tackle the problem of financial exclusion including the commissioning of a community banking partnership. Details of this are on the council’s website: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/equality/financial-inclusion-brighton-hove

East Sussex Credit Union, Community Base, 113 Queens Rd, Brighton, BN1 3XG

East Sussex Credit Union Ltd (ESCU) is a not for profit savings and loans co-operative, which has been operating locally since 2000. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, it is one of the leading credit unions in the UK. The organisation has recently enjoyed rapid growth, with membership at an all time high and in excess of £1.5 million in member savings.

As a mutual, ESCU takes its social and charitable objectives very seriously. It aims to provide high quality, sustainable and easy to access local savings and loans to meet the needs of the people of East Sussex.

ESCU is dedicated to actively reducing the detrimental effects of poverty and financial exclusion and:

Works in partnership with local community groups and other statutory and non-statutory organisations to provide joined up solutions which help to combat poverty and its detrimental effects upon health, educational attainment, employment and homelessness.
Contributes to economic regeneration by promoting a savings culture and sensible borrowing practices amongst its membership. ESCU offers loan facilities to those who find it difficult to access loans through normal banking channels and are therefore forced to use high interest lenders. 
Offers cost effective and flexible loans that meet the needs of members and which offers a viable alternative to predatory lending practices. ESCU has also introduced prepaid debit cards which allow financially excluded members access to internet and web banking services.
Advances local wealth by redistributing profits to members in accordance with co-operative principles. Every pound invested with ESCU supports more loans to people in the community who might not have access to bank accounts.