Spending advice for the festive period

IT CAN be easy to get carried away with spending at Christmas, but one North Somerset group is urging residents to be cautious during the festive period.

In the run-up to Christmas, North Somerset Credit Union is urging residents to avoid using doorstep or payday lenders to boost their funds at this expensive time of year.

Staff at the credit union - a savings and loans cooperative controlled by its members - regularly see people who have got into financial difficulty after borrowing money from such sources.

General manager Jackie Simpson said: “There is a lot of pressure for people to spend money at Christmas.

“We have people on low incomes who think their only option is doorstep or payday lenders.

“These companies are making a huge amount of profit.”

Many payday lenders advertise on TV, offering customers immediate access to funds, which will be taken back when they are next paid along with added interest.

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Jackie added: “If you are borrowing money against next month’s salary, you are immediately going to be down and not be able to last the next month.

“It can then be a vicious circle with people having to borrow from them again at extortionate interest rates.”

North Somerset Credit Union is a not-for profit organisation and offers affordable loans of up to �5,000.

Many are given on the condition they are paid back within a year and none of them will have any hidden charges or set up fees attached to them.

Jackie said: “We are here to help people avoid getting into excessive debt – debt they will be paying back next Christmas.

“We are also trying to encourage people to budget – we offer a Christmas savings account which you can start throughout the year.”

* For more details about North Somerset Credit Union, which is based in Weston but also runs services in Portishead and Pill, visit www.nscreditunion.org.uk or call 01934 429573.