Pop-up community bank aims to drive out the loan sharks

A 'pop-up' community bank is be launched in Low Hill as part of efforts to drive out loan sharks preying on local people.

The Affordable Finance Shop will run on two Wednesdays every month at Low Hill Community Centre, in Kempthrone Avenue.

It is being set up by Wolverhampton City Credit Union, the not-for-profit community bank run by local volunteers, in a bid to give people in Bushbury, The Scotlands and Low Hill an alternative to high interest lenders.

The community bank will open for the first time next Wednesday (JULY 26), from 10am to 1pm and will operate at the same times on the second and fourth Wednesday of over month.

Community banking staff will be on hand to help local people to open savings accounts and access low interest loans.

Welcoming the pop-up shop, city councillor and WCCU board member Hazel Malcolm said: “We have growing evidence that doorstep lenders are operating in the WV10 postcode, charging extortionate rates of interest that impoverish individuals and families.

"We know one lender who is charging nearly 300% APR. Such rates can lead to problem debt.

“The pop-up credit union will take on these lenders by providing a fair and affordable alternative for local people. As well as offering affordable loans, the credit union encourages people to save regularly to take better control over their finances and their lives.”

One of the driving forces behind the Affordable Finance Shop is lifelong credit union member and volunteer Tony Blakeway who started a savings club in Low Hill nearly 25 years ago.

He said: “We know there’s a risk of local people turning to high interest lenders and loan sharks. That’s why we think it’s so important that the credit union operates in the heart of the community.”

Wolverhampton City Credit Union was founded 15 years ago and is a not-for-profit community bank owned and controlled by nearly 8,000 members. It is run by volunteer directors who are elected by members from among their own numbers.

Members who save enable other members to take out affordable loans. The income generated by this lending is used to meet operating expenses, build reserves and pay savers dividends wherever possible.

Based in Worcester Street, the credit union is authorised and regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority who regulate all the banks and building societies. It is also a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and holds a Consumer Credit Licence that is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

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