TWO credit unions have joined forces so they can provide even more people with access to affordable loans and pay larger dividends for their members.
The merger of First Choice and Mid-Rossendale Credit Unions will lead to significant economies of scale and, as well as increased dividends, it will also pave the way for future developments.
Chair of First Choice Marilyn Procter said: “We are looking to develop the use of new technology for our members including an app.
“It is how people now want to carry out their financial transactions and we want to be able to offer them the services they want.”
The new credit unions ‘common bond’ – which sets membership criteria – will extend from Preston to Rossendale including Hyndburn and Ribble Valley to Bury North including Ramsbottom – a population of 413,000.
People who work within those boundaries, but live elsewhere, are also eligible to become members.
Chair of Mid-Rossendale Allyson Jump said: “Having two credit unions so close means that everything is duplicated from board members, directors, two sets of books, two independent auditors and independent computer systems. By joining forces we will be able to make significant financial savings.
“This is a merger of equals. Both credit unions are more or less equal in terms of numbers of members and turnover.”
The combined credit union will have an existing membership of more than 1,200 within the Valley and many more who live elsewhere.
First Choice was authorised in Haslingden in 1993 while Mid Rossendale started 16 years ago.
Both have expanded considerably and extended their common bonds to offer services to many more people, however members have only been able to carry out transactions within the credit union holding their account.
The merger will enable members to pay in money, access their savings or pay loans from any of the three offices in Rawtenstall, Haslingden or Accrington.
Both unions also have collection points throughout their areas.
Marilyn said: “A credit union is a savings and loans co-operative owned and run by its members for its members.”
Allyson added: “People’s savings are used to provide low-cost loans and we offer the best rate of anyone for loans of up to £1,000. We ensure people only borrow what they can afford to and that they have the ability to repay the debt.”
The credit unions also work with other agencies and signpost to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and other partners where appropriate.
The new credit union, which will be going under the name First Choice, is hopefully going to be established by 1 October with an official opening day planned for International Credit Union Day on 16 October.
Bacup Credit Union remains independent.