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Darlington Credit Union urges businesses to join initiative to help staff manage financial pressures

ByPeter Barron

Nov 28, 2021

BUSINESSES are being urged to support a community initiative aimed at easing the financial pressures on local people following the pandemic.

Darlington Credit Union (DCU), which has around 8,000 members, wants companies to become “payroll partners” as free and easy way of helping employees to manage their finances.

The not-for-profit organisation is also appealing for investors to help secure its long-term financial stability, so it can continue to help local people with issues around debt.

Darlington Credit Union chief executive, Tony Brockley, said: “The past year has had a serious impact on the financial security of lots of people, so we are appealing to the businesses community to help us provide badly needed support.”

DCU, established in 2009, has set up a scheme for local businesses that offers instant access savings and affordable loans direct from employees’ pay.

“This is an employee benefit that’s free of charge for employers and not at all onerous,” said Mr Brockley. “All we need from employers is one BACS payment per month, and we’ll do all the work.”

Major employers already taking part in the scheme include County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust; Darlington Borough Council; and Student Loan Company.

The initiative is also being support by North East England Chamber of Commerce, and Darlington Cares.

“It’s great to have such large, high-profile employers on board, but size really doesn’t matter,” added Mr Brockley.

“We simply want to encourage as many employers as possible to encourage their staff to start saving in the easiest way possible.”

There is no joining fee for individuals and DCU accepts individual and corporate liability for the scheme.

The credit union is also fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), in the same way as banks and building societies. Individual members are also covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for all savings up to £85,000.

Studies have shown that 70 per cent of UK workers waste a fifth of their time at work worrying about their finances, costing an estimated £120 billion pounds per year.

Meanwhile, businesses are also being urged to invest in the future of the DCU, which has set a target of raising £300,000 to strengthen its capital assets ratio. Investments can be made through loans, grants, or deferred shares.

“The pandemic has clearly had a huge impact, leading to more people struggling to make ends meet, and it has also put at risk some of the growth aspirations we had as an organisation,” said Mr Brockley.

“By investing in us, businesses will be supporting an organisation that is making a huge difference every day in the Darlington area.”