A community bank which will help people with poor credit avoid getting into the payday loan trap has opened its doors in Aylesbury.
Aylesbury Vale Community Bank was officially launched by Vale MP John Bercow at a special event.
The facility is part of the of Swan Credit Union, which spans Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Thame, and follows on from the work of the Aylesbury Credit Union.
It is hoped that the scheme will give people another option, rather than borrowing money from commercial firms which charge extortionate rates of interest.
The launch event was attended by councillors, town and parish councils, churches and other community organisations, as well as the MP and Speaker of the House of Commons.
Aylesbury Vale Community Bank provides locally-owned banking solutions for people across the whole of Aylesbury Vale and members can expect competitive borrowing rates and access to their accounts 24/7.
As well as this, the bank offers an accessible drop-in service at Aylesbury Library.
Martin Phillips, Buckinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for community engagement, said the Aylesbury Vale Community Bank launch was a nail in the coffin of illicit money-lending and sky-high interest loans in the county.
He said: “This is a properly authorised and regulated financial body, providing legal loans at reasonable interest rates, to which everyone can have access.
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to support the set-up of community banks in Buckinghamshire with a fund of £66,000. No-one should now need to resort to loans with interest rates in three or four figures – or, worse, fall victim to illegal loan sharks.”
Mr Bercow also praised the new scheme.
He said: “I wish the Aylesbury Vale Community Bank well, its launch is great news for the area.
“Local credit unions have a huge amount to offer savers and borrowers and we would all like to see as much choice as possible in banking services.”