Tel: 0118 958 5803

01 January 2011

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert article on Credit Unions

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert article on Credit Unions published 29 October

What exactly are Credit Unions?

Credit Unions are small non-profit financial organisations set up by people with something in common, to benefit their community.
They’re there to provide a financial community, where its members mutually benefit as there’s no profit for third party shareholders.
At one end they help those who can’t get access to ordinary, run-of-the-mill bank products, becoming a lifeline for many living in less well-off communities grappling with their finances. For many they’re a welcome alternative to payday loans or doorstep lending.

How do they work?

Credit unions aim to help you take control of your money by encouraging you to save what you can, and borrow only what you can afford to repay. In essence, they're a savings and loan co-operative, which just means the members pool their savings to lend to one another and help to run the credit union.
This is done in a ‘not-for-profit’ way, so the cash is only used to run the services and reward the members…and NOT to pay outside shareholders, like most other financial institutions.
To keep all the money safe, credit unions can’t lend out all their members’ savings or plough the remainder into anything that carries too much risk. Plus all money in savings unions has the same government protection as bank savings accounts.

It's not just about the products

One of the main objectives of a credit union is “The training and education of the members in the wise use of money and in the management of their financial affairs.”
How do credit union loans/borrowing work?
A key appeal of credit unions is a willingness to make small loans of £50 to £3,000, which high-street banks won’t do.

What’s the interest rate?

The interest is usually around 12.7% APR (1% a month) going up to a maximum 26.8% APR. So if you borrow £100 over a year at most you’ll repay £126
As noted these rates are higher than the cheapest Credit Cards or Loans, but are MASSIVELY cheaper than the products offered to those who are usually turned down for loans from high street banks when rates can be 200% or more.

What are the monthly repayments on a one year loan?

Amount Borrowed

Typical (APR 12.7%)

Maximum (APR 26.8%)










There aren’t any repayment penalties
Credit union loans usually carry NO hidden charges or penalties if you can pay off the loan early. Plus life cover is packed into the loan at no extra cost so if you die before paying off the loan, the insurance would repay the loan for you.

How do credit union savings/bank accounts work?

These tend to be ultra flexible, allowing you to save amounts large or small weekly, monthly or whenever you can.

How much do they pay?

Rather than interest like a normal savings account, credit unions aim instead to pay a dividend on your savings each year. This simply means a ‘payment back’ in proportion to the amount of money you’ve got in. Effectively if the credit union is making money, you’ll get a cut of this, and the amount depends on how much you’ve saved.

Any other benefits?

Life savings insurance is included with savings accounts, at no extra cost. This means that if you die, the amount of savings can be as much as doubled by the insurance and paid to whoever you choose. Further details on this are available from the individual credit unions.

How safe are savings in a credit union?

Credit Unions are small organisations and lack the enormous amounts of money of the big banks. On the other hand the regulations mean they must be far more prudent and not over lend.
As with any type of savings, the most important thing to consider is “in the event it went bust, am I protected?” and the answer is yes. Credit union savings have exactly the same protection as normal savings accounts; in other words the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will pay back £50,000 per person, per institution.

For more info see Martin Lewis’ the Safe Savings guide. (
For the full; article click here

Reproduced with kind permission of Money Saving Expert


Payday Loans scam should be banned!

A loan from one of many payday rip-off merchants costs 13 times more than the same loan from the Credit Union. Community Savings and Loans is the new credit union for the whole of Berkshire and is ready to provide local people with a much cheaper and responsible option: borrowing and saving at the same time.

The payday loans game;

To borrow £200 for one month from one of the many payday lenders will often cost you £50 or more. It will cost £3.91 from us!

It gets worse though, if you don’t pay off the payday in the first payment your debt goes up and up. After six months you’ll pay £245 to a payday lender, from us it will cost you £13.

Banned in the USA, get rid of them in Berkshire too!

Chief Executive David Screen said today “Payday lenders are banned in 15 states in the USA, so why don’t we run them out of Berkshire? Most of the providers in the UK are American companies operating over here making a fortune because the rules are just too relaxed. These organisations are getting people into debts that they can never get out of”.

It’s more than just borrowing.

We expect all our members to save as well as borrow because our aim is to get people out of the debt-spiral. We sit down with applicants and work together to come up with the best loan AND saving arrangements for both of us. It’s a great way to manage your money.

For more information, or to come and see us please see our Opening Hours page or call us on 0118 937 5796




New Office opens in Maidenhead

Local residents are being offered practical financial help and support with the launch on Monday 22 November of a credit union in the Royal Borough.

Community Savings and Loans Ltd is Berkshire’s only Credit Union and is opening an office in the CAB building on Marlow Road. The credit union will reflect the aims of the Big Society by recruiting volunteers to help put people back in control of their finances and steer them away from loan sharks and doorstep lenders who charge extortionate rates of interest.

The credit union will:

  • offer local financial services, including to people who are ‘financially excluded’ because of a poor or no credit rating
  • provide savings opportunities for those who want safe savings, at a reasonable rate of interest who want their money to be used to support the local community.

The local branch opened for business on Thursday 25 November offering telephone, online and face-to-face savings and loans services.

Cllr Richard Kellaway, lead member for finance, said: “The current economic situation continues to hit people hard and it is particularly difficult for people who, for various reasons, may have a poor or no credit rating and probably can’t get a loan at all or one with affordable interest rates.

“When things are tough it’s all too easy to fall into the hands of loan sharks and organisations that prey on the vulnerable by charging sky high interest rates that are virtually impossible to pay. We will be offering a reliable, ethical affordable savings and loans service which will bring residents together to work for the benefit of the community by helping people manage their financial affairs – very much in line with the Big Society aim of putting people in control.”

Initially the Royal Borough credit union will open one day a week from 10am to 4pm on Thursdays in the CAB office at 4 Marlow Road Community and Youth Centre, Maidenhead, and will be staffed by Jayne Parsons, the CSL customer services manager. However, recruitment of up to 12 volunteers is now underway so that eventually the credit union will open five days a week and also have offices in other parts of the borough.

Volunteers do not need any previous financial services experience but they should be good communicators, computer literate and keen to be involved in a worthwhile community project. Anyone interested in learning more about the volunteering opportunities should contact the CSL customer contact centre on 0118 958 5803 or email .

David Screen, CSL chief executive, said: “We are very excited by the prospect of new savers, borrowers and volunteers joining the 700 members we already have across Berkshire. Working together with local people we will provide an honest, fair and responsible alternative to mainstream finance institutions.

The Royal Borough has been investigating the possibility of setting up a credit union for some time and in April Cllr Kathy Newbound proposed a motion to council saying that a credit union would ‘help financially protect borough residents’.

Credit unions work by encouraging members to save regularly – as little or as much as they wish – with the pool of savings used to provide loans at affordable rates of interest. They are regulated by the Financial Services Agency.

Community Savings and Loans has grown from the former Reading Credit Union which was set up almost three years ago and has now extended across Berkshire to provide good quality, low cost financial services to all those who live and work in the county.


Cllr Richard Kellaway, lead member for finance – tel: 01628 482605

Harjit Hunjan, community and business partnerships manager – tel: 01628 796947

David Screen, chief executive of Community Savings and Loans Ltd – tel: 0118 937 5796



Credit Union posts record performance!

Credit Union posts record performance!


Loans business doubled in a year

Membership growth of 40%

Members savings increased by 68%

Reading Credit Union successfully expands across Berkshire;

In August 2010 Reading Credit Union received government approval to expand its customer area to the whole of Berkshire. It changed its name at the same time to Community Savings and Loans and is shortly to open branches in Maidenhead, Slough, and Newbury with plans to open in Bracknell and Wokingham in 2011.

Great results for 2009 to 2010

Chief Executive David Screen said today “We are delighted that more people than ever are joining us because we offer the only fair and reasonable alternative to the big banks. We are adding over 15 new saving members every month and in total our member’s savings have grown by over £100,000 in the last year. We are planning to pay our savers a 1% dividend, that’s ten times more than most High Street accounts - it just shows we are the place to come to save money and get something back. Our loans business is up 140%, a lot of this is because our members recognise that we are much better to borrow from than doorstep lenders and payday lenders.”

Expansion and more growth.

We are opening in Slough on the 2nd December when new members can join us and get a £20 bonus if they open an account on the day and save as little as £5 each month for at least three months. It’s a fantastic offer and we want loads of people to come down and sign up on the day. Let’s all promote fair and responsible financial services together.

For more information, or to come and see us please see our Opening Hours page or call us on 0118 937 5796

Community Savings and Loans (Berkshire Credit Union) Ltd, a credit union authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, firm number 457045, and whose registered office is 58 London Street, Reading RG1 4SQ.




Reading Credit Union expands across Berkshire

A Berkshire credit union designed to help people avoid loan sharks and high interest rates has been given the go-ahead to expand across the county.
The Reading service, which has been offering ethical loans and savings since 1997, is operated as a community cooperative bank with no shareholders.
It will become Berkshire's first credit union after a successful application to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Volunteers are being sought to help set up local services.
As part of the expansion, the credit union name will be replaced with Berkshire Community Savings and Loans.
David Screen, chief executive of the service, said: I am delighted with the news from the FSA, they have clearly recognised that we are a strong and growing local enterprise and wish to support our growth.
We will be looking for volunteers across Berkshire to help set up our local services during August and September.

Account information for members


We will be sending out statements to all our members during the next few weeks.

If you need any information sooner please take advantage of the member on line log in service as refereed to on the home page.

Minimum savings balance

Following a recent review of the business we have regrettably had to increase the minimum balance requirement to £5.00.


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