A Wiltshire and Swindon organization that lends money to low-income people to keep them from using payday lenders has been voted the best in the south at a financial website’s annual awards.
Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union (WASCU) has won the Best Credit Union (South) category of the Smart Money People’s 2022 Consumer Credit Awards. The site is best used in the UK for financial services news and reviews.
The judgment was based on reviews left on the site by people who use services registered with Smart Money People. In more than 170 reviews, WASCU has achieved an average of 4.94 out of 5 stars, which Trustee Chairman Nick Gallop says is a testament to the quality of service provided by its staff.
“The office staff who look after the members did a fantastic job and it’s a reward for that. I am delighted for everyone involved in the organization and it is very satisfying to be recognized in this way. I see it as motivation to do more.
The group, formed in 2016 from four separate Wiltshire credit unions, is based in Cavendish Square, Swindon, but has collection points across the county. It lends over £1million a year to 3,500 active members and sees a steady increase in demand, partly due to the cost of living crisis.
Its loans are designed to help families who can’t get credit elsewhere to keep them from turning to payday loan companies with crippling interest rates or even illegal loan sharks. Members open savings accounts and, if they meet loan criteria, can take out loans, which are repaid monthly.
Its most popular product is its family loan, which requires members to have their child benefits paid into their savings account. They can then take out a maximum loan of £500 and the credit union takes their weekly repayment directly from the benefit before transferring the balance the same day.
The awards cover the entire credit industry, including loan providers, credit unions, credit information partners, retail finance and more.
Along with star ratings, members were encouraged to leave reviews for the service. A member wrote:
“When you need to borrow money, the only ones that will offer you anything are payday loans with the most ridiculous APR rate that doubles you back.
“The credit union will only offer what you can afford and will encourage you to save without a ridiculous APR.” I have been using this credit union for a few years now and it has helped me through Christmas, appliance replacements and family vacations. I couldn’t have done it without being able to borrow from them.
“I was delighted when the credit union was able to help me after an accident left me struggling to work and support my eight-year-old child. The professional care, efficiency and empathy were second to none and I can’t recommend this organization highly enough.
One member said the service is a great resource when money is tight, she wrote:
“I’ve been both a borrower and a saver – the latter these days, but they were there years ago when I needed them and I haven’t forgotten it. I always save in my account, although a little each month. The most useful thing is that it comes from my paycheck and I can just forget about it.
Monsieur Gallop said:
“The particularity that we have made is to provide quality service and a way of treating people with dignity. Some of those who come to us were barely managing to survive, then their fridge stopped working or they had to buy new shoes for three children going back to school.
“We deal with them in a really helpful and constructive way and because of that they left such great reviews of our service and it’s wonderful that’s why we won this award.”
To learn more about the credit union service, go to: wascu.co.uk.