People in Leeds can now access ethical financial services right in the heart of the city centre, with the recent opening of Leeds Credit Union’s flagship ‘Your Loan Shop’ in the Merrion Centre.

The opening also marks the 30th Anniversary of Leeds Credit Union and it is estimated that over the last 10 ten years alone the credit union has issued £92 million of loans and saved families and the community £47 million in interest payments.

Your Loan Shop is part of Leeds City Credit Union and provides a wide range of affordable borrowing and savings opportunities. The shop will also provide many of the other services of the credit union including; credit union memberships, helping people to save and guiding people to financial information services including Leeds City Council’s Money Information Centre service.

The credit union is committed to providing affordable credit to its members and the people of Leeds, and this shop in a busy shopping centre gives the opportunity to provide more affordable loans to people and reduce the number of people resorting to high cost lenders.

Around £100 million flows out of the Leeds community each year in interest payments to high cost lenders, door step lenders, log book loan companies, pawn brokers and pay day lenders. Leeds Credit Union is committed to reversing this trend to provide more affordable loans where the interest payments are much lower. By using a credit union loan members pay less in interest repayments and this has an economic benefit for the whole community. For some, high cost lending can also lead to unmanageable debt and in turn this can cause stress and illness in families.

There are currently six traditional Leeds Credit Union branches around Leeds, however this is the flagship branch of the Your Loan Shop brand and the very first to open in a shopping centre.

Isobel Mills, President of Leeds Credit Union, commented:

“We have been looking at growing our presence in the high street and with an average monthly footfall of 950,000 and a good match demographically for our target member base the Merrion Centre was a great fit to meet our objectives to grow awareness and accessibility within Leeds.

“Since the FCA clamped down on high cost lenders and pay day lenders 6 out of 10 high cost lending firms have closed shops on the high street. Therefore, it is good news that an affordable loans shop run by the credit union is bucking this trend.”

Leeds City Council has worked in partnership with Leeds Credit Union for several years, to tackle poverty in the city and raise awareness of low-cost lending options and provide services, education and advice to improve the financial well-being of families in Leeds especially those who are most exposed to the likes of high cost lending and debt.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“Helping people out of poverty is vital and a key priority for us, which is why we have worked in partnership with the credit union, advice partners and social landlords and many other partners in the city for many years to do what we can to assist hard-pressed families who don’t have access to mainstream affordable financial services. By bringing credit union provision to a busy retail environment will help even more people access low-cost, easy-access loans but without the extortionate interest rates.”

Isobel Mills continued: “We are extremely proud of what we have achieved in the local community over the last few years. We remain dedicated to providing affordable financial services to the local community and beyond and I am sure there will be exciting times ahead for Leeds Credit Union as we enter our 30th anniversary year.”

‘Your Loan Shop’ is also supported by an interactive website for those who are unable to visit personally: www.yourloanshop.co.uk

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