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New business methods used by Bradford District Credit Union help financially excluded


04 Apr 19

Ever since Bradford Council set up Bradford District Credit Union (BDCU), it has used innovative methods to reach financially excluded people and give them a chance to save or borrow ethically and sustainably. 

In the past 12 months, BDCU has hosted interactive ‘jargon-buster’ workshops which have been delivered to 150 people, demystifying financial issues in times of austerity in the district and the introduction of Universal Credit.

It also runs a ‘LifeSavers’ scheme which teaches good financial habits and skills in primary schools, with 76 children registered who have saved over £6,000.

"Each week a dedicated team of young bank tellers arrive before schools start to serve their fellow students who faithfully deposit whatever they can afford towards their savings goals," explains Financial Inclusion Officer at BDCU, Ian Brewer.

Ian added that it not only helps children with an attitude to save but also with Maths & IT skills, Ian said: "We have heard so many stories of how their maths has improved just by being able to work the numbers. It has got wider consequences than just saving. They are interacting with being able to save money on a regular basis."

Another initiative to help members deal with Universal Credit in the district, is the launch of its ‘Universal Credit Budgeting Account’.  The pilot scheme is funded by the Illegal Money Lending Team and is the first funded credit union account of its kind for Universal Credit claimants. Under the pilot, the account holders are not required to save, but as people get to grips with budgeting saving can be encouraged. It does mean that if people only ever use the card and not saved they will not be able to apply for a loan from BDCU.

CEO Andrew Bowker is proud that the staff of BDCU is making a significant impact on communities in the district. Andrew said: "None of the great improvements made this last year would have been achieved without the support of all the staff who work very hard to ensure the credit union remains fully compliant and members are well served. Especially the additional support required for the financially excluded with the launch of Universal Credit payments in Bradford and surrounding areas."

Active membership and savings of BDCU have improved in the year with membership up by 5% and savings deposits increased to over £4.8 mil – a substantial 9% growth on last year.

Acknowledging the great work BDCU does alongside the local council over the last 25 years, Cllr Ali said: “Thanks to the Council’s progressive thinking, some 25 years ago, and our great partnership with the credit union over the past two and a half decades, thousands of people have benefitted from manageable savings schemes and affordable loans.”


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