A new credit union where people can borrow cash on low interest rates had its official opening on Walworth Road last Thursday.
The London Mutual Credit Union branch, a non-profit organisation, aims to compete with pay-day loan companies like Wonga in helping cash-strapped residents to get credit safely.
The opening ceremony was attended by deputy-leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson MP, as well as Southwark Council cabinet members Stephanie Cryan and Fiona Colley.
Joan Driscoll, a London Mutual senior manager, said: “We’re cheaper than loan companies. If you borrow £100 from Wonga you will pay 24 per cent interest. If you borrowed that much from us it would cost £3.
“We won’t lend people money they can’t afford to borrow, so our customers won’t get themselves in more debt. Each individual is different, and we look at everyone properly.
“If someone is on benefits and they get sanctioned, or something goes wrong, and they need access to credit, that’s the moment they turn to a high street lender. But we give them a choice.”
Jeremy Leach, chair of Walworth Society, said: “Three years ago we were really campaigning against the number of pay-day loans shops, betting shops and pawn brokers that had opened up here. We’re delighted that we’ve got our own credit union.”
Tom Watson MP said: “Credit unions are ideally placed to provide access to ethical finance and to help people manage their money better, keeping them out of the clutches of loan sharks and high interest payday lenders.”