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AGM set for Saturday 22nd April 2017

Members will shortly receive their official Calling Notice for the Annual General Meeting and the Board of OCU will be inviting all members to join us at the Friends’ Meeting House in St Giles in Oxford on Saturday, April 22nd at 11.30.  This is a welcome opportunity for all of us to meet in the flesh, for the Board to report back to members, and for members to give their views or ask questions.  This year the Board will be recommending that a dividend be paid to members and this will require the approval of members present.

We also look forward to welcoming Steve Eyre, chair of Swan Credit Union, who will give us an overview of how this neighbouring credit union – also part of the CUS ‘family’ – operate and how we can learn from each other.

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We welcome a new Board member

We are very glad to welcome today a latest Board member, Steve Edwards.  He comes to us with a wealth of business experience but also a track record in voluntary work in and around Oxford.  Come to the AGM on April 22nd 2017 and meet him in person!

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OCU at Chipping Norton Coop

Oxfordshire Credit Union was at the new and wonderful “Chippy” branch of Midcounties Co-operative on a busy Saturday morning. Volunteers were explaining what the credit union does, why saving is important and how we help members stay away from high cost lenders.


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Where do your savings go?

Triodos Bank recently carried out a customer survey, asking people if they knew where their money was going. Whilst 41% did know where their money was going almost 60% didn’t.

Not all banks are the same. Some banks (Triodos Bank and Cooperative Bank are two examples) adopt specific ethical and environmental policies, others have weaker or non-existent policies. We use the Cooperative bank for some of our processes.

Oxfordshire Credit Union has a simple and ethical model. We use your deposits to lend to other members. The money goes around in a virtuous circle. Moreover by offering lower cost loans, we provide a genuine alternative to high cost lenders.

We are also a cooperative. Our administration is undertaken by a workers’ cooperative; Credit Union Solutions. So when you speak to one of our staff you are talking to a cooperative ethical business.

This year we changed our telephone provider to Phone Cooperative – a leading ethical business, who invest half their profits into other cooperatives and social enterprises. They are even based in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire!

So when you save and borrow from us your money directly supports other members, and indirectly benefits a wider cooperative community.

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Ping Trees

An odd name – and many of us will never have heard of it, but its big business, and if you have ever applied for a payday loan it probably has affected you.

If you apply for a payday loan on-line you have to fill in your personal details into the website.

But many of the websites aren’t actually lenders themselves, but brokers. They sell your information, to the actual payday lenders. The bidders are payday lenders who pay as much as £75 for your information. They then offer you the loan. If those first line of lenders don’t buy your information, its passed down the tree to other lenders.

As the “Guardian” in the article below explains, nearly half of the payday loans come through ping trees. Its the opposite of a normal fee you pay to a broker, where the broker tries to get you the best deal. Indeed you are likely to be directed to the worst deal, and of course the payday lender has to recover the cost of the ping-tree commission, so in the end its added into the cost of the loan.

Its this sort of business model that led us to create the Oxfordshire Credit Union. By giving members a way of saving, and ensuring those savings are then lent onto other members who need to borrow, we help our members steer clear of these sorts of businesses.

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Why credit union – why cooperative?

Credit unions are one form of co-operative, and co-operatives are a unique way of running a business. It means in our case that we are owned by our members, who all have an equal say in how we are managed. You can find our more about how cooperatives work here:

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Payday market ‘unrecognisable’ but still a ‘trail of misery’

The Guardian newspaper today reports on the new regulatory system which has limited the worst excesses of the short-term lending market in the UK since the summer of 2014.  Following high profile condemnation by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 and some intensive campaigning by Citizens Advice and many others, new regulations have forced 14,000 lenders out of business and led to heavy losses by some of the big names.

The Consumer Finance Association claims that things are now very different from a few years ago, but the article quotes many examples of a continuing ‘trail of misery’.  Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have doubled since last year and there are still high cost alternatives such as ‘log-book loans’ and doorstep lending (often by illegal ‘loan sharks’).

Carl Packman, an industry expert at Toynbee Hall, says some people have just stopped borrowing and gone into deeper arrears on rent and utility bills instead.  This is not a case of the rise and fall of payday lenders, he says: ‘It’s the rise, a hiccup, and probably another rise to come.’

There is still much for the credit union movement to do in encouraging efficient money management and affordable borrowing before crisis point is reached.


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Promoting OCU at the Coop and at Unipart

We are always keen to spread the word and find new members – so that they too can save and borrow with an ethical financial provider.  We’ll be promoting OCU at the Coop at Chipping Norton on July 9th and at Unipart in Garsington Road, Oxford, on July 7th and/or 12th.  Can you help us for an hour or so on any of those days?

If so, please email or call David on 07857 469548.


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