Unite launches credit union to take on rip-off lenders

Unite launches credit union to take on rip-off lenders

13 November 2013

Unite, the country’s biggest union, has today (Wednesday 13 November) launched a new credit union service, in a bid to take on payday lenders, encourage saving and offer members finance without fear.

The new credit union service, launched at Unite’s sector conference, arrives in the week the union released figures showing the extent of Britain’s cost of living crisis. Independent research shows that the disposable income of Unite members has fallen by £129 a month, with households being forced to borrow an average of £660 over the same period.

Against this difficult backdrop, the Unite credit union service is a clear challenge to payday lenders and others trying to make profits out of ordinary people’s financial hardship - promising to save borrowers hundreds of pounds on the cost of a payday loan, for example.

It forms a key part of the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey’s vow to keep members “out of the clutches of parasitic lenders”.

The new Unite credit union service is open to all Unite members in England, Scotland and Wales, who will be able to open instant access savings accounts, offering low cost borrowing, including payday loans.  

Supporting members to save, even low amounts, will open up more affordable loan opportunities.  With a typical APR across the networks around 27%, and some are even lower, when compared with the rates from a payday lender, someone borrowing £1,000 over a year could save around £685 on their loan.

The Unite credit union service uses a panel of carefully vetted, existing credit unions, so ensuring that members can link up with a credit union that is already established in their region.  Members can find out more and start the joining process by calling 0333 0110 450 or visiting

Commenting, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “We are determined to wipe out rip-off payday lenders and ensure that they can’t make profits by exploiting victims of the financial downturn.  Unite's new credit union service ensures our members can access finance without fear and helps keep them out of the clutches of parasitic lenders.

“Rising bills and stagnant wages have resulted in average Unite members seeing their disposable income plummet by £129 a month, with some being forced to borrow an average of £660 over the same period.

“While the government stands on the sidelines and allows the quiet crisis to intensify, Unite is taking firm action: fighting for better wages and conditions in the workplace, while offering members a new credit union service that puts them and their families first. This is a clear embodiment of Unite's values.”

Howard Beckett Unite director of legal, membership and affiliated services added: "We’re proud to launch the credit union service as part of our continued drive to develop membership services that respond to the needs of members.  It’s fitting that we launch it at Unite’s sector conference.

“Unite credit union will operate in partnership with Unite Debt Management and initiatives such as our Unite4Jobs website.  There has never been a more important time to be part of a union and Unite will continue to develop those services our members most need.

“Those interested in finding out more about the credit union network and joining should call 0333 0110 450 or visit”


For further information contact James Bevan, Unite campaigns officer on 07711 347 645.  

Notes to editors:

Further information on the Unite credit union visit:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.