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Campaign aims to encourage credit union membership

A campaign's being launched to encourage more of us to use credit unions to manage our finances - as opposed to a High Street bank.

At the moment, just two per cent of Welsh adults are members of credit unions. But in countries like Ireland and the US, that figure's as high as 70 per cent. Carole Green's been finding out more.

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  1. Megan Boot

Growing support for borrowing from credit unions

There are calls for more families to turn their backs on payday loan firms and other expensive forms of finance, and use credit unions instead.

The financial co-operatives are predicting big growth as people look for cheaper ways to borrow money.

There are currently over 70,000 credit union members across Wales - and that number is expected to double by 2020.

Over the last year, their combined savings have risen 11 per cent to over £27m.

Credit union users expected to double

Intrest rates for credit union loans are capped at 2% per month Credit: PA

The number of people using Credit unions in Wales is expected to double over the next few years.

There are currently over 70,000 members in Wales and membership is expected to rise to 142,000 by 2020.

Credit unions have been championed as a way for people on low incomes to save and borrow money.

APR for credit union loans are capped at 2 per cent per month and so are a far more affordable option than many banks and other high street lenders, especially on smaller value loans.

The Welsh Government has recently committed £1.25m to further support the work of the Welsh credit union network from October 2013 through to March 2014.

  1. National

Labour: Payday lender tax will fund credit unions

Payday lenders have been widely criticised for charging excessively high interest rates. Credit: Press Association

Labour are expected to unveil plans for a new tax on payday lenders to help fund low-cost alternatives, such as credit unions, later today.

Payday lenders, which offer short-term loans to customers who run out of money while waiting for their monthly pay cheque, have been widely criticised for charging vulnerable individuals high interest rates which can top 5,000% a year.

Companies will have to pay an existing levy when they start being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority next year.

Under Labour's proposal, payday firms will face an additional charge on top of this to boost the credit union market, where loans are available at much lower rates to households unable to access the mainstream credit market.