The Somerset Community Credit Union was formed in 2017 from the merger of Taunton Credit Union (established in 1996) and the Bridgwater Credit Union (established in 1998). It covers the whole of Somerset including North Somerset. But what exactly is a ‘Credit Union’?
A credit union is simply a community savings and loans provider. Traditionally, credit unions have been small, non-profit financial organizations set up by members with something in common, such as living in the same town, working in the same industry or belonging to a particular trade union.
They are controlled by an elected Board of Directors at the Annual General Meeting and all members are eligible to stand as nominees for the Board after their first 6 months of membership regardless of the value of their savings. By saving regularly with a credit union you also become eligible for a low cost loan (1.5% interest a month on the reducing balance, APR 19.6%) and all savings are eligible for an annual dividend which is usually about 1.5% so currently considerably higher than that offered by high street banks.
Credit unions provide a financial community where members mutually benefit as there’s no profit for third-party shareholders. Also by providing a financial community this means that they can offer a lifeline to those who are struggling to access ordinary bank products but they are aimed at EVERYONE.
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 are savings and loan co-operatives where 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.
When asked why they joined our credit union, newer member Liz Marsh said: “Well firstly I joined because they are a community focused group that is dedicated to helping their members with lower fees, better rates and a personal, caring and helpful level of customer service. Secondly, you become not just a member, but a part owner so that you’re not just another customer, you have shares, a voice and voting rights. My savings go to help other members in my community with loans while remaining fully protected, earning a fair interest, an annual dividend and if I need a loan in the future I have that option available to me as well. My account is easy to manage online and you can pay in or take out loans at the different collection points like the one at the Victoria Centre in Bridgwater.”
So how do you join?
- Anyone living in Somerset including North Somerset can join.
- You only need £1 to start saving.
- Application forms can be downloaded from the website https://www.somersetccu.uk or are available at any of our collection points including at the Victoria Park Community Centre in Bridgwater and the YMCA in Taunton.
- There’s a £2 joining fee or £4 if joining online (all under 16’s are exempt from joining fees) and an expectation to save at least £5 in the first 3 months.
Any money that’s left over is channelled back to those who have got a savings account (to pay them interest) or it’s used to improve the overall service.