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14 November 2014, 11:31
Newcastle United Supporters' Trust has teamed up with credit unions to encourage fans to borrow money responsibly.
NUST has worked with three Tyneside-based credit unions - the Bridges Community Bank, Northern Oak and Moneywise over the past 18 months.
It's part of the Trust's wider aims of working with local community organisations that see it offer free football coaching in the city's deprived areas through its junior supporters' trust, free Newcastle tickets to local volunteers through its 'Local Achievers' initiative and regular donations to local charities through the sale of its 'Black and White Ale'.
Michael Thewlis from Newcastle United Supporters' Trust says:
"The credit union movement is not widely understood in the UK and we are keen to help spread the word about the services these locally focussed organisations offer so they can expand the good work they do in their local communities.
Once people join the credit union, it is like a normal high street bank and people can pay in money or withdraw their cash over the internet or at the branches of the credit unions.
This initiative is particular pertinent following predictions that the payday lending market may contract following the Financial Conduct Authority's cap on interest rates and fees for these lenders, and concerns that it may push people into the hands of loan sharks.
We hope that by encouraging supporters to open a NUST-branded savings account, it will give our credit unions access to more funds so that they are able offer affordable loans - with interest rates that are still considerably lower than those imposed by the FCA on payday lenders - to more people in their community."
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central told Heart:
"I am so glad that Newcastle United Supporters Trust is offering this service for Newcastle fans. The Wonga sponsorship damages the image of Newcastle United when it comes to finances, encouraging fans to take out loans at very high interest rates. This service reminds us what local credit unions can offer, personal, local, long term financial support."
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck said:
"I am absolutely thrilled that NUST are launching this initiative and its significance should not be underestimated. The contrast between credit unions and organisations like the club's sponsor are stark. It is unsurprising that while the supporters' trust associate themselves with responsible lenders, those running the club choose to promote parasitic payday lenders. In this era where so many in our communities are struggling, improving awareness of credit unions and borrowing is hugely important and I cannot praise this initiative highly enough."