The Scottish Government have launched a pre-Christmas campaign encouraging people to consider using local Credit Unions rather than payday lenders.
The ‘12 Days of Debtmas’ campaign is aimed at people who may get into financial trouble in the run-up to Christmas by using high interest, short-term credit.
Over 350,000 people in Scotland are members of credit unions – co-operatives that are owned and managed by the people who use them.
Members are encouraged to save monthly, even if it is only small sums. They can borrow at competitively priced rates and in some cases, in a short timescale.
First Minister Alex Salmond recently announced plans to protect consumers pledging payday lenders would be subject to tougher regulation in an independent Scotland.
And Moray’s MP Angus Robertson has been a strong advocate of the Forres Area Credit Union, citing the Moray group as an ideal alternative to payday loan companies.
Mr Robertson said: “Forres Area Credit Union is a great example of community based banking that allows members to both save and borrow in a much more sustainable way without being hit by punitive interest rates.
“Credit unions can offer affordable alternatives to high-interest short-term lenders, and that is why I am delighted to promote the work of Forres Area Credit Union.
“The SNP is committed to working with stakeholders, including credit unions, to assist those who are suffering from financial difficulty due to high interest credit, particularly pay day loans.
“We are also calling on the UK Government to cap interest rates on pay day loans and to toughen the regulations on this sector of the banking industry.”
The pre-Christmas campaign is supported by a web site http://www.12daysofdebtmas.com/ that highlights how simple it is to fall into the payday loan trap with interest rates as high as 5000% crippling personal finances and bringing greater hardship.
Mr Robertson said: “I would encourage people to find out about the benefits of joining a credit union, which not only offers affordable and secure financial services but it is also rooted in the local community with the members having a democratic say in how it is run.
“Credit Unions are supported by volunteers keeping those important community roots really strong.”
Details of the Forres Area Credit Union can be found at http://www.forresareacreditunion.co.uk/