Bradford’s biggest credit union has reported a 28 per cent increase in the amount of loans it gave out in 2012, resulting in nearly £900,000 given to borrowers.

That is a £158,270 more than 2011, and such is the success of Bradford District Credit Union it has also reported an eight per cent increase in members, which now stands at 3,748, with its current assets totalling more than £3 million.

The increase comes as one advice centre revealed that it is booked up until April for those needing debt advice.

Such is the demand for the credit union, it is providing a new counter in City Hall to improve customer services and a pre-paid card is being piloted and will be available to thousands of members soon.

It has also officially expressed an interest in taking part in the Government’s plans to invest up to £38m over the next three years in credit unions.

This investment will be conditional upon the credit union industry meeting a number of agreed milestones for collaboration, modernisation and expansion.

Bradford District Credit Union wants to move people away from using payday lenders and loan sharks and see the union as a much better alternative, said its chief executive, Andrew Bowker.

Only weeks ago, Bradford councillors backed a motion to help support credit unions in the district ahead of the introduction of the controversial Universal Credit in October.

The authority will work with partners to expand the services and facilities of credit unions through the district and raise awareness of the services they offer.

The district’s biggest social housing group Incommunities is still offering thousands of tenants a cash incentive of £10 to join a credit union to try to safeguard their benefit payments amid fears the new single-payment will lead to a spike in homelessness through rent defaults among people who have difficulty managing their budgets and put them at risk from loan sharks.

Mr Bowker said: “Bradford District Credit Union is in a strong position to take on this current year and ahead. We are an alternative to doorstep lenders and pay day loans and the maximum rate we charge is 26 per cent.

“Our priorities to increase membership and ensure that the credit union offers increased numbers of personal loans at manageable competitive rates to a broad spectrum of members.

“We want to make the credit union a large organisation so we can actually assist the local community to a high level."