Confiscated loan shark cash used to help Wirral savers

People in the Wirral area are being offered a cash boost to help them save more as part of a new credit union initiative in partnership with Stop Loan Sharks.

New members who join Wirral Credit Union between March and May this year will qualify for a £25 bonus as long as they meet all the criteria.

The bonus is being paid by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, also known as Stop Loan Sharks, and is funded by cash that has been confiscated from illegal money lenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

To qualify, people have to live or work within the CH46 postcode area and have an income below £25,000. The £25 bonus is available to the first 50 members who join WCU in March and save a minimum of £10 a month for three months.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said, “Credit unions provide an invaluable service to those people who may not be able to access credit through mainstream channels. They also give people the chance to start saving which helps to build their financial resilience and protect them from being targeted by illegal lenders in the future.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Wirral Credit Union to offer this incentive and we hope it will encourage people to sign up and start saving.”

Steve Kendrick, Wirral Credit Union CEO, said, “For over three decades we have provided ethical savings and loans services to our members, and sadly we’ve heard stories of people who have fallen into the hands of loan sharks.

“Many loan sharks will resort to bullying tactics, such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment, and often won’t set an interest figure or have any form of paperwork.

“We want to make loan sharks history in our borough, so we’re delighted to work in partnership with England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to offer this incentive to the people of Leasowe and show people there is a better, safer and more affordable way to manage their money.”

The credit union is also working with the Wirral Development Trust, a community-focused charity based in Leasowe, which will be promoting the savings scheme in that area. Ray Gillam is the Wirral Credit Union Champion for Leasowe and can offer assistance and answer any questions regarding the incentive scheme or the credit union. He is based at Leasowe Library.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Stop Loan Sharks. Over the past two decades, the team has supported over 31,500 people, written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, and secured over 416 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail.

Anyone who thinks they, or someone they know, may have been targeted by an illegal lender in the area is urged to contact the Stop Loan Sharks team’s specialist officers for help and advice.

There is a 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 and a Live Chat facility available on the website Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. For more information visit stoploansharks.co.uk

Image: Ray, WCU Champion Leasowe

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