Moneywise beat off competitors to win a contract to deliver credit union services in Sunderland, now offering its services to employees and residents of the City.
With a membership of over 11,000 members, this is set to soar with the backing of Sunderland City Council who were looking for a more local and ethical alternative for saving and lending.
Council research estimated that around £12m annually leaks out of the city in extra interest payments to high cost lenders, rent to own stores and payday lenders.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: “One of the most important parts of tackling financial exclusion and tackling poverty is creating better credit and debt solutions.
“Most people at some point in their lives need access to credit and the council wants to see affordable options because nobody should be having to resort to illegal lending and extortionate rates.
“It can be good for Sunderland if council staff and other city-based workers save in the new Moneywise Sunderland union to help make it more sustainable.
“This is a co-operative council and credit unions are co-operative solutions helping to create a financial community where members of the union mutually benefit because there’s no profit for share holders.
“Credit unions are for everyone, not just the financially excluded, and a good union with a mixed economy of customers can be very useful for those who cannot get access to ordinary bank products.
“By working and saving together we can create a co-operative financial community in Sunderland. There are benefits too for employees and employers from introducing salary deduction schemes and how people who save regularly are better able to cope with any financial distress or unexpected cost.”
There are already more than 300 unions across the country with more than 1.3 members and Moneywise has over £5.4 million worth of assets with members saving being over £5.1 million and lending at over £3.3 million.
Chair of Moneywise, Phil Goad said, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sunderland City Council in delivering the Affordable Credit Solution to the staff of the council and the residents of the City. As a regional provider of Affordable Credit we are an ethical alternative to the high cost lenders that concentrate on the financially excluded of our region and end up costing them more money. We are a viable alternative for savers and borrowers alike.”