A new Wales Credit Unions The survey shows the stark reality of the cost of living crisis this winter for people in Wales, with almost half of respondents expecting to borrow to pay essential bills.
The survey of 780 people, released on October 20 to mark International Credit Union Day, found that 48% expected to have to borrow to pay essential bills such as food, utilities and clothing this winter.
Meanwhile, 60% expected the cost of Christmas to impact their ability to pay essential bills, double the proportion seen in previous years.
“This is the third time we have conducted this Christmas spending survey and the responses show the impact of the cost of living crisis and how people plan to cope,”
Ann Francis, CEO of Cambrian Savings and Loans, Wales’ largest credit union, said.
“A lot of people are trying to spread out the cost of Christmas, with 8 in 10 having put money aside, nearly 9 in 10 shopping early and almost 90% budgeting.”
“However, what is equally clear is that while people have put money aside and are budgeting, they are also looking for credit to get them through this time, and there is an increase. marked by the number of people looking for high-cost options.”
More than one in five respondents expected to use payday or home loans, a significant increase from just 7% in 2020, and 30% planned to use their credit card or store cards to help to finance Christmas, compared to 19% in 2020 and 14% in 2019.
As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, Credit Unions don’t have huge advertising budgets, but they thrive in communities across Wales, and that work is celebrated at Wales Credit Unions Awards ceremony at Pierhead on 20 October.
One member who is honored on International Credit Union Day for the difference he makes in his community is Mamadu Djalo.
Mamadu joined Cardiff & Vale Credit Union in 2015 after moving to the capital as an asylum seeker with his family, having fled his native Guinea Bissau to Africa in 1998.
He has since become a community leader and, having been an asylum seeker himself, he understands the struggles families go through to find a better life.
Mamadu conducts awareness sessions within its community on the risk of loan sharks and refers members who need affordable credit to Cardiff & Vale Credit Union.
His work is recognized by the Wales Credit Unions Member Difference Award. Cardiff and Vale CEO Leanne Herberg said:
“Mamadu constantly promotes the services of the credit union within her community. He is a true unsung hero, both for his community and for the credit union.
“As this survey shows, many people in Wales need the message Mamadu is delivering that credit unions are available to all communities in Wales and provide affordable loans for people in all circumstances, including those considering alternatives to expensive and illegal lenders.”