Hard pressed families in Manchester have been given financial lifelines totalling £24 million in small loans over the past decade by Manchester Credit Union, as demand reaches record levels.
This has resulted in savings of over £16 million in interest for Manchester Credit Union members, compared to doorstep and other sub-prime lenders.
To mark the support and savings made over the past ten years, Manchester Credit Union has now joined forces with other ethical lenders across the UK to create an online portal that will help people avoid a cycle of damaging problem debt and beat the threat of pay day lenders.
The Affordable Loans online portal, which has the backing of leading supermarket Asda and the Cabinet Office, aims to make it easier for people with poor or no credit rating to access affordable loans from responsible lenders.
CEO of Manchester Credit Union, Christine Moore, said: “Demand for loans has reached record levels as household debt spirals and people are not able to access affordable credit.
“We want to help people break free from a cycle of debt in an affordable way and ensure those caught up in high-cost borrowing are not shut out from the best interest rates when they need it most, so we are delighted to join forces with other ethical lenders.”
The Affordable Loans online portal has the backing of Asda, who will direct its customers to the portal via its Asda Money website, along with credit score expert Experian, who has developed the portal, as well as support from lending network Responsible Finance and debt charity StepChange, and other ethical lenders across the country.
Francis McGee, director of external affairs, at debt charity StepChange, said: “This is a welcome addition to the affordable lending landscape in the UK. There is a pressing need to improve access to more affordable forms of borrowing and widen the reach of community lenders. Innovative schemes like Affordable Loans are a positive step towards achieving this.
“The scheme rightly recognises that borrowing is not always the right solution and will ensure that people have access to a range of options, including free debt advice, that can help to manage periods of financial difficulty and uncertainty.”