A NEW credit union being set up in Chorley has found a base.
Unify Credit Union, which already has a branch in Wigan, is set to be run out of Chorley Council’s offices on Union Street.
Credit unions are member owned banks run by the community. They generally provide lower interest rates as well as handing out smaller loan amounts than are available from high street banks.
Council bosses say they have made an offer to Unify and are waiting to hear back if they will go ahead with the move.
Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said: “We have made an offer to Unify Credit Union for them to operate from our one-stop-shop on Union Street.
“We are looking into the feasibility of this and are waiting to hear back from them on the proposal.
“One of the council’s priorities is to help Chorley residents who may have to use an alternative to the high street banks, and are increasingly paying unnecessarily high interest rates to commercial cheque cashing services and pay day lenders.
“We want to assist community based lenders such as Unify in any way we can for the greater benefit of the people of Chorley.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle became the first member to sign up to the union last week.
He said he hopes the move will mean less people will turn to loan sharks and high-interest lenders when in financial difficulties.
He said: “The fact that people can get a two per cent return better than the banks is great news. It makes a real difference to people.
“What this will do is give people an alternative to getting finance, and it’s an alternative to loan sharks. People will know their money is safe.”
Unify general manager Angela Fishwick said: “To begin with we’ll only be able to take applications for membership over the telephone and the internet, but the council is trying to find us a base so that we can provide a full range of services to members.
“We will be opening up a collection point as soon as possible.”
Unify was set up in 2002 and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority and savings are covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme - in the same way as banks and buildings societies are.
Credit unions are typically more popular in America but are set to become more widespread in the UK over the coming years.