MORE ‘struggling’ Hertfordshire families who are starting to feel the pinch in the run up to Christmas could be tempted by loan sharks, warns the St Albans community bank.

St Albans District Credit Union is urging families not to be swayed by high-interest lenders enticing them with promises of quick cash before the Christmas period begins.

Estimates suggest that people could spend over £500 on Christmas 2017. Many will be tempted to turn to payday and doorstep lenders, use high interest credit or store cards, or even borrow from loan sharks.
Colin Metcalfe, (Chairman of St Albans District Credit Union) warns ‘Families could be left with a massive financial hangover in the New Year as a result of trying to treat their children. In past years we have encountered a number of these problems come January.’

County Councillor Sandy Walkington said: ‘People so often feel the pressure to spend more than they can afford on Christmas. It’s so important that they stay away from the high interest lenders. Christmas should be a time for families, not loan sharks. If people need to borrow they should first contact a fair cost lender such as the credit union. It’s a proper bank but run by volunteers, so it does not need to make massive profits.’

The not-for-profit community bank, which opened in 2002 and now has almost 2,000 members, is encouraging people to act now if they think they might need a loan to cover Christmas spending.
Mr Metcalfe added: “We encourage our members who borrow from us to save a little too, so they start building up something to fall back on when they need it. For example, we have run a Xmas Extra matched loan scheme for the last two years and plan to continue in 2018.

Everyone who applies for a loan from us is treated as an individual and we will only lend what people can afford to repay. We are owned entirely by our members and don’t need to make big profits, that’s why the repayments on our loans are more affordable.”

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