Why we’ve joined a Credit Union partnership

24 September 2018

Today, Cornerstone proudly hosted the launch of a ground breaking new Credit Union partnership, which aims to promote financial inclusion and choice for people living in south west England.

Together with eight other south west housing associations, we have partnered with local Credit Union, Westcountry Savings and Loans, to bring Credit Union services to our tenants,  communities and staff to tackle the issue of high cost credit by providing affordable, trusted financial products.

Westcountry Savings and Loans is an alternative home for savings and source of affordable loans. It is owned by, and run for the benefit of its customers who are all members of the organisation. The company’s mission is “for people not profit”;  no profits go to external shareholders and any interest on borrowing is recycled back into the Credit Union to enable it to serve more customers and offer better rates, products and services for the benefit of communities across the south west.

The aim is to provide choice and better products to encourage savings and budgeting, and so offer a much better and affordable alternative to high cost payday or doorstep loans. In the past households have had limited options in terms of loans and savings products, many of which are expensive and can create serious financial issues  in many households.

Up until now, Credit Union coverage has been patchy or non-existent across the south west with limited access as a result of a range of barriers such as technology, service provision and geography. This has lead to even less choice for people living in the area, and pushed many low income households into taking on even more debt at higher rates.

Rick Williams, Chief Executive of Cornerstone, explains why the partnership has Cornerstone’s support:

“When money is tight ‘pay day’ loans may seem like the best option available. Often, this unsustainable model quickly creates large amounts of debt for those least able to afford it. To tackle the growing issue of high cost credit, Cornerstone is pleased to be partnering with Westcountry Savings & Loans, and seven other housing associations in the south west, to connect our communities with a reliable, affordable financial alternative.”

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