Loans boss hails people's 'prudent' spending in lockdown

Jon Warne at the launch of Norwich credit union's new offices in London Street. Photo: Bill Smith

Jon Warne, president of Norwich Credit Union on Pottergate. - Credit: Bill Smith

Despite warnings about a spike in lockdown loans, the people of Norwich tightened their pandemic purse strings and spent "prudently". 

In May last year, Jon Warne, president of Norwich Credit Union (NCU), which dishes out affordable loans, warned there could be a serious knock-on effect on many people's finances from the restrictions.

But despite there being some financial struggle for parts of society, Mr Warne said: "We thought we would have more problems than we have encountered. We thought more people would struggle with their money.

"There have been some problems for people but not to the extent we thought there would be. We thought people with loans from the NCU would not be able to pay them back.

"Once lockdown started in March 2020 people were really prudent."

The union, which started in 1989 and is based on Pottergate, works with a "collective" co-operative system meaning shareholders do not benefit financially and "make pots of money" out of it, according to Mr Warne.

He added the biggest problem for the union was its need for more volunteers to do all the work needed for its 1,500 union members.

He said: "The debt culture is quite worrying. We are trying to run the charity for the best of intentions. I believe co-operation is better than competition.

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"You don't get shareholders who make pots of money out of it. Everybody benefits. People work together. It is there if people want to use it," Mr Warne added.

Loans can be given to anyone through the charity, which has 30 volunteers, but recipients must provide ID and have a credit check.

Mr Warne said: "The last thing we want to do is give bad loans. It could lead to the demise of the credit union."

The charity is currently operating on an appointment-only basis and is open on fewer days, compared to before the lockdown, but it is hoped that a full and safe service can resume soon.

To get involved in volunteering or to get financial help call 01603 764904, visit www.norwichcreditunion.org.uk or email office@norwichcreditunion.org.uk


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