A Welsh Community Bank has broken its monthly lending record making more loans than ever to its Members.
In November, Smart Money Cymru lent £566,000, widening access to fair and affordable finance for its almost 11,000 Members in the Valleys and around Wales. As well as breaking the previous monthly total of £507,000, 128 new customers joined the Community Bank in that month, also setting a record.
Mark White, Smart Money Cymru CEO, said he was delighted that in these difficult times, when many families and individuals are struggling with bills and the cost of Christmas, more people were seeing the benefits of joining.
“Our aim is to prevent people becoming excluded from financial services and give them the stability they need,” he said.
“The lending criteria of High Street Banks can be rigid, and at the other end of the scale are the unregulated lenders and loan sharks who prey upon the vulnerable.
“We are working to fill the space between these two, giving a second chance to those who may have had problems in the past and not have a perfect credit record,” he added.
This approach was borne out, he said, by the increasing numbers joining Smart Money Cymru and benefitting from its loans and savings products.
Another important Member benefit is Smart Goods, which Smart Money Cymru launched a year ago. The scheme allows Members to obtain loans with which to buy from a catalogue of 5000 homeware goods such as fridges, freezers and televisions and this has proved very popular.
The Community Bank, which is also a Credit Union, has offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood, Tredegar and Brecon as well as outreach services in local communities. Brecon Credit Union recently merged with Smart Money Cymru and is now seeing major investment in new systems.
The organisation is committed to maximising the use of its resources to support the communities it serves, and is currently lending £4.4 million to Members, backed by an asset base of £6 million.
“Our loan book represents around 80% of our assets, and we are determined to make them work hard to serve our Members and use them to underpin the financial services we provide.”
This is a higher proportion of assets supporting lending than other Welsh Credit Unions, which typically stand at around 40%, according to Mr White. “We are very proud of the fact that we support our lending in this way, meaning that we are able to extend affordable and fair support to Members to help them when they need it, particularly in these trying times,” he said.