It is hoped that the merger of two of County Durham’s credit union banks will bring benefits to savers.

The merger of NEFirst Credit Union and Prince Bishops Community Bank took place on 1st June 2018, following a detailed review which suggested such a move would benefit members and the wider community in County Durham.

The existing savings and loans of members will not be affected by the merger in any way.

The merger has the support of Durham County Council, which will continue the work it began with NEFirst Credit Union to develop savings schemes with employers and schools.

Credit Unions are not-for-profit social enterprises which can provide community members with savings accounts, low-interest loans and even free life insurance.

The merged organisation has taken on the name of NEFirst Credit Union. Following the merger, the union has 16,00 members, a loan book of over £3.5 million and shares worth over £4.5 million.

NEFirst Credit Union is an independent organisation which is owned and run by its members.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for social inclusion, Cllr Jane Brown, said, “Credit unions offer a stable and straightforward way for people to save.”

“They also provide a much safer alternative to payday loan companies, pawn brokers and doorstep lenders, with far lower interest rates.”

“However, they have been underused in this country for decades, with just 3% of the UK population credit union members.”

“The merger of these two respected credit unions will help to strengthen the credit union movement in the north east as a whole, helping people reduce their debts and save for a brighter future.”

The chairman of NEFirst Credit Union, Peter Mackie, said, “This merger is good news for people in County Durham and across the north east.”

“We look forward to helping more and more families with sensible savings and affordable loans.”

NEFirst Credit Union – which was first formed from the merger of several smaller north-east credit unions – has been offering saving accounts and loans for more than two decades. It now also provides a debit card to its members and is looking to further extend its services.

All residents of County Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear are eligible to join, as is anybody who works in these areas.

To learn more about NEFirst Credit Union, please go to www.nefirstcu.co.uk/.

Durham County Council’s Durham Savers project is part of a wider council initiative to tackle poverty and encourage saving rather than debt. To find out more about Durham Savers, please visit www.durham.gov.uk/durhamsavers.

(The featured image shows Peter Mackie with Cllr Jane Brown and Cllr Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration.)  

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