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Bradford
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Credit Union and Council help to tackle ‘Cost of Living Crisis’

Bradford’s Credit Union has been praised internationally for its partnership work in helping to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Bradford District Credit Union has received international acclaim for its partnership work in Bradford. Started by Bradford Council in 1993, BDCU has just past 9,000 members who save and borrow safely and is recognised as the first ‘Community Development Credit Union’ (CDCU) in the UK. Scott Butterfield, who works with over 200 credit unions across America, visited Bradford to see these partnerships.

Scott said, “Congratulations to Bradford on becoming the City of Culture 2025, you are clearly a city of great heritage and innovation and I look forward to seeing how the Credit Union develops new funded co-designed projects with partners like Bradford Council to tackle the Cost of Living Crisis. BDCU has built the partnership networks to create a new model here in the UK and I will be taking some of these ideas back to my network of credit unions in America.”

One project Scott visited was FoodSavers, where Inn Churches approached the Credit Union with a new idea to help people save in the community.  They wanted to explore a membership-based solution to access low-cost food with an easy way of saving into the Credit Union to build financial resilience and avoid going to Loan Sharks.

Through a growing network of community, FoodSavers pantries, the Credit Union are seeing how favourably people are responding to being able to access quality food to feed their families whilst building financial resilience. There are now 12 FoodSavers outlets across Bradford District with several more in the pipeline.

Tess Wilkins, from FoodSavers, said: “We now help more than 400 families access affordable food and also help them save at the same time and we hope that we will be able to help more families.”

Another innovative project is UniformSavers, funded by Bradford Council’s Public Health department. It has helped 285 single parent families to save £10 a month for their Children’s schools uniforms with a bonus of £100 that is being paid out to members this week.

With the support of the councils Customer Service Centre, many parents gave their stories of how this is helping families with their mental health through the Cost of Living Crisis. One member said “I usually wait and borrow the money for a uniform and then it takes me ages to pay it back, this savings habit will stop me doing that.”

BDCU also received a visit from Charles Randle, the Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority, who had also heard about the new CDCU model in Bradford and came to learn what Bradford is doing that is so unique.

Ian Brewer, Financial Inclusion Officer who is funded by Bradford Council said:  “It has been an honour to have this level of support at a time when more people than ever need the help of Credit Unions to get into a savings habit and access low cost loans that helps people avoid having to resort to Loan Sharks and high cost lenders. We thank our many community partners and Bradford Council for their support and look to develop new ways of helping people through the current crisis.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council Leader, said:  “We are very proud of our partnership work with the Credit Union and congratulate them on passing 9,000 members.  They do some great work with our residents across the district and we are glad that we are able to support them especially at this time when families need the extra support that the Credit Union can offer more than ever before.”

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