Welsh credit unions celebrate a year of growth

Around 80,000 Welsh people are members of a credit union

The Welsh credit union sector continues to grow, with 15 new credit union branches and collection points opened across the nation in the past year.

The latest figures from Credit Unions of Wales show the sector’s importance in Wales, where around 80,000 people are members of a credit union. They have a combined £44m in savings and £25m in loans – an increase of around 25% over the last five years.

The new credit unions include Cambrian, launched this week in the former Money Shop premises in Rhyl, marking International Credit Union Day.

Cardiff & Vale Credit Union and Gateway Credit Union have also expanded in recent weeks.

Cardiff & Vale opened in Working Street in the centre of the capital while Gateway moved into a new office in Cwmbran.

Cambrian general manager Ann Francis said: “This new high street office will help us expand affordable and ethical financial services to people in north Wales. Last year we saved our members around £2m in loan repayments, that’s money that stays in our communities. People really are better off with us.”

Leanne Herberg, CEO of Cardiff & Vale, said: “We know Covid-19 has hit people’s finances hard, and credit unions are focused on helping to keep money in our communities across Wales. The money that is saved with a credit union is lent responsibly to others in the community at affordable rates. There are no external shareholders, so our focus is simply on providing the best services to our members.”

Celtic Credit Union opened a new branch in Port Talbot in the middle of the lockdown. Likewise, SaveEasy Credit Union in West Wakes opened five new pop-up branches and collection points across Llanelli, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock in just four months. The expansion brought SaveEasy Credit Union an Access to Financial Services Award.

Jane Hutt MS, patron of Credit Unions of Wales, said: “Credit unions across Wales have worked incredibly hard to increase accessibility to ethical and affordable financial services in these difficult times. From opening new offices to building the capacity of their online and telephone services, they are focused on expanding the reach of fair and ethical financial services.

“We all need help sometimes, especially during times of uncertainty and everyone should have access to fair and ethical financial support.”

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