A warning has been issued over loan sharks looking to prey on people struggling to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis.
Halton Credit Union (HCU), based at Runcorn Shopping City, said illegal lenders are becoming more “prevalent” and circling amid straitened finances among the public.
The HCU has now teamed up with Mike Amesbury, Labour MP for Weaver Vale, to discuss the issue and the services available for residents from around Cheshire, and to sound the alarm over the heightened risks of people resorting to loan sharks.
Mr Amesbury has also agreed to host a room in parliament and invited other Cheshire MPs for the HCU to promote its services.
HCU’s mission is to provide affordable credit and as well as savings accounts and loans, the credit union also signposts customers to support provided by the likes of Citizens Advice Halton and the StepChange charity.
Gareth Heesom, HCU deputy chief executive, said: “We are not the same as other loan companies.
“We have an ethos that we want people to get out of poverty.
“We don’t want to push more poverty onto people.
“In an ideal world we wouldn’t exist but unfortunately it’s not an ideal world.
“And with the likes of Provident not doing loans anymore, unfortunately you are seeing the rise of loan sharks again.
“They are becoming more prevalent.”
Mr Amesbury, whose office is situated nearby, said: “The biggest challenge in the community is the cost-of-living crisis.
“People are on their knees.
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“Now, more than ever, cash flow can be an issue for those on benefits or low pay, especially in the run-up to Christmas or if faced with an unexpected cost.
“Credit unions are safe and responsible organisations you can trust. I know there can be a stigma around using a credit union but, actually, they are there for anybody.
“And there’s no judgement and no questions asked around why somebody might need a loan and no credit checks required.”
HCU is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which means the FSCS can pay compensation to depositors if the HCU is unable to meet its financial obligations.
For more information, visit haltoncu.co.uk