7:00am Thursday 31st October 2013
By Hannah Postles
Bradford District Credit Union yesterday unveiled its new city-centre base in a fightback against loan- sharks and pay-day lenders.
One of its members, Stephanie Walton, 20, of Buttershaw, cut the ribbon to open the new premises in Cheapside.
She told how she turned to the union for help when she struggled to pay back two pay-day loans totalling £1,000.
Miss Walton said she borrowed the money to pay for furniture and a cooker after moving out of her mum’s house but had not understood the “extortionate” interest rate.
“The interest was 4,000 per cent but I didn’t know what that was,” she said. “I was making repayments but the first time I missed one one of the companies called my work to tell them and gave them all my details.
“A debt advisor put me in touch with the credit union and they managed it all for me in a couple of weeks. I’ve borrowed the money to pay off those loans and now I make repayments straight from my salary. Everyone’s been brilliant.”
Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green said the district had “never needed the credit union more”.
Last month BDCU revealed it had seen a 20 per cent increase in lending from £843,107 in August 2012 to £1 million this August.
As well as opening its new premises, which it rents from social-housing landlord Incommunities, it will join the Credit Union Expansion Project next month – a group of 82 credit unions across the country that can access £38 million of Government cash to compete against high-interest lenders.
The cash will pay for new stores, budget accounts, online-account management and 24-hour telephone banking, which will be introduced in Bradford and at other unions next year.
Andrew Bowker, chief executive of BDCU, said: “This new office will allow us to help a much higher population from the Bradford district.
“We offer loans with substantially lower and more manageable payments. Our maximum interest rate can be 26 per cent APR.
“And we don’t just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – we will always do whatever we can to help.
“Our membership is increasing dramatically and in the two days we’ve been open we’ve seen about 50 per cent of the people we would expect in a month.”
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