Last updated: 21/03/2013
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Joining forces with the credit union
What do credit unions do?
Credit unions can help you save for the future and offer low
cost loans if you need to borrow a little extra.
They provide savings accounts, loans and other financial
services at fair interest rates. They are run by their members for
their members. Any profits are invested back into the credit union
for the benefit of all.
Credit unions are strictly regulated and your savings are
protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, making
credit unions safer and cheaper than payday loans and doorstep
lenders. They are easy to join and very approachable.
Who are credit unions for?
Credit unions are for everybody – both savers and borrowers. You
don’t have to be employed or have a bank account to join. Members
make regular savings, which can be as much or as little as you
want. You can save up to £10,000 with your credit union.
Ordinary loans and instant or emergency loans
Once you’ve joined a credit union, you can apply for a loan if
you need to. This is generally after you’ve been a member for a
certain period of time, usually around 13 weeks. The amount you can
borrow is based on the amount you have saved.
Some credit unions can also provide instant or emergency loans.
These are considered on a case by case basis.
Cornwall’s credit unions provide free life insurance on their
loans (conditions apply).
Investing in local communities
All the money saved in Cornish credit unions stays in Cornwall,
so they’re great for people who want to invest in local communities
The credit union in Cornwall
Cornwall Council works with Kernow Credit Union, which operates
across the whole of Cornwall.
You can find out more about Cornwall’s credit union by clicking
on the link below:
Credit union case studies
Take a look at some credit union case studies to see how they
Mr and Mrs X were doorstep borrowers who had never managed to
Credit union staff helped Mr and Mrs X go through their budget
and found that they could save a small amount each week, which
quickly built up in a savings fund. When Mr and Mrs X needed to
borrow, they were able to obtain two small secured loans from the
credit union instead of topping up their expensive doorstep loan as
they would have done in the past.
Mr and Mrs X have never missed a visit to pay in their savings
and loan repayments and are now on target to pay off their doorstep
loan by the end of the year. They will also have enough to see them
through Christmas without having to resort to credit.
Mr and Mrs X say that joining the credit union was the best
thing they have ever done and have even persuaded some of their
friends to join. They have also vowed to save the money they are
currently using to pay off their doorstep lender once their account
Mr and Mrs P approached the credit union for a loan after Mr P
lost his job
A quick budget check up showed that the couple were deeply in
debt and another loan would not be in their interest. The credit
union outreach worker set up an appointment for Mr and Mrs P with
the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for debt advice, helped them sort
out their paperwork and at their request went with them to the CAB
Mr and Mrs P now have their debts under control. They keep in
regular contact with the outreach worker and plan to join the
credit union when Mr P finds work.
Miss J needed a loan to decorate her flat
Miss J had already received a quote for a loan from a doorstep
lender but had heard that the credit union interest rates were
She took out a loan to help cover her decorating materials and
is repaying it regularly, as well as saving a small amount each
Miss J has recently returned to the credit union for a further
small loan to replace her fridge.
Mr B wanted a small loan from the credit union
A look through Mr B’s finances showed that he wouldn’t be able
to repay a loan and needed help with budgeting skills. After a
number of sessions with the credit union outreach worker, Mr B
could understand and manage his budget better. He joined the credit
union and now saves a small amount each week.
Mr B had used doorstep lenders for more than 20 years and hadn’t
realised how much interest he was paying. He now understands just
how high the interest is and is determined never to take out
another doorstep loan.
The outreach worker also helped Mr B with other issues, and Mr B
now brings in any paperwork he doesn’t understand so the outreach
worker can read through it with him.
Volunteer Cornwall -
find out more about volunteering to help out at your local credit
Citizens Advice Bureau - free,
independent, confidential advice on benefits, money, housing, legal
and other issues
Cornwall Works – a free
service offering a variety of activities and support, dependent on
your needs, to help improve confidence and job prospects
Money managing tips - tips on how to
manage your money, save on your bills and what support is
Benefits - how to claim housing and council
tax benefits, what you may be entitled to and how to let us know if
your circumstances have changed
Debt advice - free, confidential, impartial debt
advice from Trading Standards for anyone living in Cornwall
Loan sharks -
information on loan sharks and how to report them