WEST Oxfordshire could get a credit union in a bid to tempt recession-hit families away from payday loan firms.
A councillor has joined forces with a church rector to look at establishing a credit union for West Oxfordshire, which would be the second in the county.
Witney South & Central county councillor Laura Price is working working with the Rev Toby Wright, the rector of St Mary’s Church in Witney, on credit union plans in the heart of Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency.
A credit union would allow members to pay into a not-for-profit organisation which then invests cash and lends it back to its members when they are in need.
Ms Price explained: “We want to offer something to support that is fair and which benefits the community and not just the big companies.”
They are now looking at whether to set up a district branch or to join the county’s other credit union based in Cowley, Oxford.
She said: “There’s a strong interest in having a credit union in West Oxfordshire.
“The fact they are supported by the Church has helped engage public interest.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Mst Rev Justin Welby, controversially vowed in July to put payday lenders out of business by using the Church of England to build up Britain’s network of credit unions.
He said it was his ambition to make the lenders redundant by setting up credit unions – before it was discovered that the church had a £80,000 stake in the pay day loan firm Wonga.
A public meeting on a second county credit union was held at St Mary’s in November and included a talk from Oxford Credit Union’s Mark Luntley.
Ms Price said: “I have talked to local community groups and they have said that a credit union would be a practical tool for them to use at a tough financial time.
“The meeting was really well-attended and we had more than 20 people come along. There are lots of people who want to invest their money.
“It would work well in Witney as credit unions work best within a mixed demographic who want to use it in a range of ways.”
In September, the Oxford Credit Union – set up in 2006 – expanded to serve the rest of the county.
This is set to incorporate the Blackbird Leys Credit Union – which has savings of £160,000 – to give it a membership of 1,600.
All savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the event of the credit union going bust.
Mr Luntley said: “It’s a really good idea to have a credit union in Witney and we welcome the idea.
“We are working with other organisations across the county who want to start a credit union.
Members join for £1 and give a £1 deposit to start a saving account.
Oxford members must give a minimum £2.50 a week and can get interest rates of 26.8 per cent APR, two per cent a month.