Northampton Guildhall will be playing host to a new credit union access and information point offering money management advice and low cost loans to visitors.
Northampton Borough Council has teamed up with the not-for-profit financial co-operative Northamptonshire Credit Union to offer the service in a bid to make credit union advisors more accessible to the public for longer hours during the day.
The new access point at the One Stop Shop at the Guildhall will be launched at 9:30am on Friday April 4 with a presentation from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, an organisation which works towards prosecuting illegal loan sharks and promoting responsible lending, and a dramatic performance entitled ‘It’s Only a Few Quid’ by the Shontal Theatre Group.
It will then be open Monday-Friday from 10am-3pm, offering money management and budgeting advice, saving schemes and, where appropriate, low cost loans charging lower interest rates than doorstep and payday lenders.
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities, trapping people into spiralling debt and causing nothing but misery and fear. Loan sharks are never the answer and we strongly support credit unions who can provide a safe and legal alternative.”
Councillor David Mackintosh said: “Times are tough for people and we know there is a need for services that provide sound money advice and help. The credit union provides that help, and we are very keen to support them in helping hard pressed individuals and their families to learn more about money management and responsible lending.”
Credit unions were originally non-profit organisations set up by recognised local groups to benefit their members and communities, but many have become professionalised and now offer savings and loans online.
There are round 500 credit unions in the UK and their member numbers are increasing as they offer different types of financial support without generating profit for third parties.
This can mean helping those who can’t get access to ordinary bank products, providing a safer answer to payday loans or doorstep lending, or just providing ethical banking alternatives.
Anyone who has been victim to a loan shark is urged to call the 24-hour England Illegal Money Lending Team helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222.