How can Bradford District Credit Union help you with the Cost of Living Crisis?
With the Cost of Living Crisis, how has this affected people within Bradford?
It’s extraordinary and we share the concerns of many people.
Here, at Credit Union in Bradford, in 2016 we looked after around 3,000 people but now, we have nearly 10,000 members and these are a range of people. People who may be viewed as being ‘well to do’ and financially stable to people on various benefits or struggling to pay off their loans: people from across the board have found themselves stuck in a cycle of credit scores. Even people with relatively good incomes are missing payments and their credit score begins to suffer.
How does the Credit Union in Bradford help people with the Cost of Living Crisis?
Banks always look to someone’s credit score before loans and credit cards are issued. Where Credit Unions differ is that they are able to take risks and we have lent to people despite a poor credit score. A Consolidation Loan is there to help people pay off their loans, so it becomes more manageable by having one lump sum to pay out each month.
There are over 300 Credit Unions across the country and this year will mark 30 years since we began. Credit Unions also build up a relationship with our customers. We are a co-operative and therefore we cooperate with people, our customers, where we can set our own rates that are affordable, unlike the various banks and most certainly, the loan sharks out there. We are a lot more ethical in our dealings, including being a faith-friendly organisation.
Credit Union in Bradford has two major projects: Uniform Savers launched in January 2023 and helps nearly 300 single-parent families to fund school uniforms. It’s funded by Public Health but is co-produced between us and Bradford Council. The second project is FoodSavers and again, nearly 300 people are utilising the 16 pantries we have across Bradford. We also run this with Bradford Council and many of the leading supermarkets donate their food for people who are struggling. £6 will get you a bag of food with £1 of that going to the Credit Union. Have a look at our website BDCU.co.uk for further details.
What are Credit Unions?
Credit Unions are similar to banks but are not run for profit and often based in the community. Members have a common bond, such as living in a geographical area, and pool their resources to offer financial services such as savings accounts and loans. Any income made is invested back into projects that serve the community and credit union members.
Credit Unions can also give you tips on how to manage money, encouraging you to save and only borrow what you can afford to pay back. There is usually a limit on the amount you can save but this is protected in the same way as normal savings accounts.
Have you seen for yourself the rise in mental health struggles, especially anxiety?
Yes, we have been more concerned as more people are struggling, such as those unable to break free from constantly being in overdraft. I’m passionate about building fences to stop people from falling over the edge of that financial cliff. Providing Money SOS courses, we can reach out and teach people to manage their finances better. Things like this could help that anxiety, help people to understand how to budget better and become more resilient.
What is the best advice you could give to people that are struggling with finances and debts?
Don’t bury your head in the sand but instead, sit down and look at your budget. There are places to help such as Christians Against Poverty (CAP), Citizens’ Advice Bureau as well as us. Get some good advice instead of being tempted with dodgy loan sharks and payday lenders. And be mindful of contactless payments because this does not communicate with your bank and it is much easier to lose track of your spending.
Posted on: 13th July 2023