Leeds Credit Union has set up a new £17m Christmas loan pot, which will be available over the next three months.
The credit union launched the loan pot in response to a survey of its 37,000 members, which asked them how the Covid-19 crisis was affecting their Christmas plans.
More than 76% of it members said they had been forced to change their Christmas plans, with 35% affected significantly.
Most respondents said they usually spend between £500 and £1,000 on Christmas. However, 43% of those surveyed say they will be spending less this year. Members are also now five times more likely to use online retailers than high street shops.
With the new loan pot the credit union aims to ensure those struggling to cope financially this Christmas do not turn to expensive payday, doorstep or loan shark lenders.
CEO Chris Smyth said: “Undeniably, we are living in a time of never before seen uncertainty, with many finding themselves in unexpected financial difficulties. It has never been more important that as a credit union, we step up and ensure as many people as possible across the region have access to affordable and ethical borrowing, and that they are kept away from those looking to take advantage of the situation.
“With so many of our members highlighting that Covid-19 has impacted their Christmas plans this year, we are determined to offer them the certainty of flexible and fair loans, and the launch of our £17m Christmas pot is the biggest amount we have ever set aside to help those who need it most.”
In response to Covid-19 the credit union has also set up additional contact numbers for members to get in touch. A new mobile banking app has also been made available ahead of its official launch so members can access their accounts remotely. In February Leeds Credit Union was named Lender of the Year at the Yorkshire Finance Awards.