Northumberland residents are being reminded of the various community-run banking services that are available.
There are different borrowing and saving options available in the county, but the common factor they all have is that they are locally run by and for their members and any profits are retained locally and re-invested.
Northumberland Credit Union (NCU) has been offering low interest loans to its members for 13 years, while the origins of Credit Union South East Northumberland as Ashington Credit Union go back even further.
And in the last year, the Tynedale Community Bank (backed by County Durham-based Prince Bishops Credit Union) was established and the North Tyneside-based credit union Northern Oak has extended its reach into Northumberland.
NCU has nearly 600 members, who have around £190,000 in savings between them. These savings are available to lend to members.
Treasurer Ian Hutton said: “Instead of making instant loans or doing external credit checks, we encourage members to save regularly, using the saving record as evidence they can afford to repay a loan.
“Therefore, new members joining around now and saving, say £5 a week, would be eligible for a loan of about £150 just before Christmas.
“The loan would be repayable over 39 weeks – the credit union knows the member can afford the £4 a week repayments, so it is able to charge very low interest rates.
“The other credit unions and community banks do offer instant loans at higher rates of interest, based on external credit checks.
“But because they are all community run, the rates they offer are still considerably cheaper than payday loans and store or credit cards.”