A Credit Union is a profit sharing, democratically run financial co-operative which offers convenient savings and low interest loans to its members. The members own and manage their credit union themselves.
A credit union aims:
- to encourage its members to save regularly,
- to provide loans to members at very low rates of interest,
- to provide members with help and support on managing their financial affairs (if required)
Benefits of a credit union are:
- it is an easy and convenient way to save and borrow,
- it offers very low cost loans,
- insurance at no direct cost,
- it's a way to learn new skills
Credit unions can provide a focal point for a community by bringing people together, to work alongside each other for their own benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole with organised events, family fun days, quizzes, etc.
A credit union can help to revive the local economy by keeping money in the community. Loans to Members can mean income for local shops and businesses.
Churches, Community Groups, National Consumer Councils, Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards, Police, Fire, Taxi Drivers, and Local Authorities are all supporters of credit unions.
The members make regular savings, as little or as much as they wish. These savings then form a common pool of money from which loans are made to members. When members have been saving for a certain period of time (usually about 12 weeks) they can apply for a loan from the pool. Interest on the loan is charged at only 1% per month on the monthly reducing balance. 12.68% Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
People who join a Credit Union must belong to what is called a "Common Bond". This could be that you reside in a specified area, or you work for a particular employer or that you are a member of a club or association.
Credit Unions welcome everybody from within the Common Bond regardless of income, employment status or age.
Save whatever you can afford - £5 a week, £1 a week, 50p a week. The only requirement is that you save regularly.
As a Credit Union grows it may declare a dividend at the end of the financial year. It can pay a dividend of up to 8% a year, although it will be unlikely to be able to afford as much as this during the first few years.
Most credit unions expect you to save regularly for about 12 weeks before allowing a loan and any loan will be related to your savings in some way.
The amount you will be able to borrow will depend on how much you need, what you can afford to repay, and the credit union's policies. In the early days the credit union will allow small loans, becoming bigger as the credit union gets bigger.
Credit Unions have to be registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
They are covered by the Credit Union Act 1979.
They are independently audited.
They are regularly monitored by the FSA.
Your business is private in the credit union because all members and Officers who have access to personal information must act in a confidential manner at all times.
They are insured against fraud and theft.
They provide life and loan protection insurance at no direct cost to the member payable to a nominated beneficiary.
The life savings insurance means that if you die, your beneficiary can receive up to twice the value of your shares.
The loan protection insurance covers the amount of your loan outstanding.
In most of the world, credit unions are well established. Starting in Germany 150 years ago they spread throughout Europe, to North America, Canada, Asia and to Ireland. One third of the adults in Ireland are members of a credit union. Credit unions are steadily increasing throughout the UK both in communities and the work place (eg. Police Force, British Airways, Fire Service, local authority employees etc.).
To become a member of the PCCU, you must be resident or work in the Pendle or Burnley areas (this is Common Bond area). The joining fee is £1 and you need an additional £1 for your first share.
PCCU are covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.