25 January 2023
Smart Money Cymru: How We Help Those in Need
“Mae Smart Money Cymru yn un nifer o lefydd diogel ran help yng Nghymru.”
“Smart Money Cymru is one of many safe places for help in Wales.”
At the beginning of 2023, Smart Money Cymru Community Bank were visited by Ministers across the Welsh Government to discuss how we provide vital financial support to people struggling with money in Wales.
Although UK inflation fell to 10.5% in December 2022, it still remained close to a 40-year high, and high prices have forced people to borrow money to pay for daily essentials, often resorting to credit cards and even worse, loan sharks and payday loans.
Whilst these methods may offer short-term relief, they can and do have devastating consequences, with people often struggling to pay back the money borrowed and finding themselves far worse off long term.
Recent figures released from the England Illegal Money Lending Team showed that nearly one in ten people turned to loan sharks to cover the costs of Christmas in 2021. In the first half of 2022, more than half of the victims did to pay for essentials such as utilities, food, and fuel. This figure has only gotten worse as the cost-of-living crisis rages on.
Whilst it may be scary when you’re struggling to make ends meet – particularly if you have other responsibilities such as a family, or Christmas – there are other options to help you and we, at Smart Money Cymru, are one of those options. As a Community Bank, Smart Money Cymru are a not-for-profit community lender, providing affordable loans and savings to the people of Wales. Being 10,000 members strong with branches in Caerphilly, Tredegar, Blackwood, Brecon and Llandrindod Wells, we are able to help more people in Wales than ever during the cost-of-living crisis.
But how do we do this?
Read on to find out!
What is a Community Bank?
Community Banks like Smart Money Cymru are not-for-profit financial organisations that are often set up by members who have what is a called a common bond to offer savings and loans.
A common bond can be anything from living in a particular town or county or being part of a certain industry or trade union. For Smart Money Cymru Community Bank, our common bond is living in Wales – that means if you are a resident in Wales, you can join our Community Bank!
Community Banks like Smart Money Cymru are essentially ‘owned’ by their members – every member has an equal say and we encourage all of our members to vote in our Annual General Meetings.
How does a Community Bank work?
Community Banks rely on their members. We help you take control of your finances in a smart way by encouraging you to save what you can on a regular basis and borrowing only what you can afford to repay. Members pool their savings together to lend to one another and help run Smart Money Cymru Community Bank.
The more you save, the more we can help others in your local community. We can offer much lower interest rates on loans than other lenders too, and any interest made on loans goes right back into Smart Money Cymru to run the services we offer and to reward our members.
Here at Smart Money Cymru, we’ve given our members a dividend consistently for the past 20 years – every member benefits from being a part of our Credit Union.
Is a loan from a credit union right for me?
Credit Unions, Smart Money Cymru included, charge low rates of interest – no more than 3% each month. This works out as 42.6% APR and means even the most expensive credit union loan in Britain is eight times cheaper than a payday loan charged at their cap. The vast majority of credit union loans are made well below the maximum interest rate!
What if I can’t pay my loan back?
We wouldn’t provide you with a loan if we didn’t feel that you can repay it and put some money aside into your savings at the same time. We aren’t here to encourage credit for debt, but credit to help you with your finances. We would absolutely ask you to give us a call so we can discuss your personal situation and provide you with advice.
How can I save with a credit union?
When you become a member with Smart Money Cymru you will also have a saving’s account, as we highly encourage you to start saving as you pay off your debts! This will help you to become more financially secure in the long run. Saving with us is simple! There are a number of ways you can pay your money into your savings account!
- Standing Order – Pay directly into your credit union account by standing order from your bank or building society.
- Payroll Deduction – Over 30 local employers offer their employees the facility to pay directly to Smart Money Cymru by making deductions from their pay. Contact us to find out more!
- Benefit Direct – You can have any of your benefits paid direct to the Credit Union to save and repay loans
- Debit card payments- Over the telephone or in one of our branches
- Cash and Cheques – You pay over the counter at our main office or one of our service points. Please make any cheques payable to Smart Money Cymru Credit Union Ltd.
- Caerphilly Council Cash Offices – You can pay here using cash or cheque, alternatively you can pay by card via the council by calling 01443 866570.
Savers can benefit from an annual dividend paid on their savings. The amount of dividend will vary year by year, as it is based on any operating profit the credit union makes in the financial year (ending 30 September). This is decided at our Annual General Meeting.
You might see some Community Banks who don’t always give a dividend out, however we’ve provided our members with an annual dividend consistently over the last 20 years!