Category Archives: Finance

Changes to Tax Credits Thresholds and Tapers

The government’s Summer Budget announced changes to the tax credit threshold (above which tax credits are reduced) and an increase in the taper (the rate they are reduced by) from April 2016.

HMRC says “For people entitled to WTC the threshold is £6,420 a year. People with annual income at or below this threshold will receive the maximum award to which they are entitled.

Those with income above the threshold will have their maximum award reduced by 41p for every pound of income above the threshold.”

This is how the threshold and taper system works today.

The threshold is being reduced from £6,420 to £3,850 and the taper increased from 41p to 48p.

In work Child and working tax credit entitlement graph

UNISON has calculated the impact of these changes on different types of household using the NJC pay scale and the spreadsheet can be downloaded here

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Credit Union Provides Banking Buddy Service

A London-based Your Credit Union is offering a ‘Banking Buddy’ service to its members who want to open a bank account but lack the confidence to go along on their own.

The Kensington High Street union says having a current account helps people improve their credit score, and means they can pay bills by Direct Debit, shop online and draw out funds at home and internationally.

“Some people feel too intimidated to cross the threshold because they feel it’s just ‘not for them’; others might not feel confident speaking English and are anxious they won’t be ‘heard’,” said Your Credit Union CEO William RhodeimagesCAK958E3s.

“For others, it might be a case of them having been turned down for an account in the past and are loath to face any potential further embarrassment by trying again. That is where having a Banking Buddy comes in.

“If someone is there with you, it can be like having an imaginary arm around your shoulder, knowing someone is there on your side.

“Everyone has a right to one of these basic current accounts. They don’t come with an overdraft facility or a cheque book, but you do get a Visa Debit card which means you can pay for things online.

“We make sure they bring along enough proof to satisfy the bank and sit with them while they’re going through the form.”

In a unique agreement with Barclays in West London, Your Credit Union will book and accompany the individual to an appointment with a named member of the bank staff.

The union already holds regular pop-up sessions at Barclays branches across West London and the new move is seen as a way of strengthening the relationship and supporting local people.

Added Mr Rhodes: “Barclays have been hugely supportive to us over the past 18 months, allowing the organisation to hold regular pop-ups in their branches in West London, and we are delighted to do something that is mutually supportive.”

The union recently helped José from Portugal who has been living in the UK since 2005 and who has never been able to open a current account with a bank. He is now a proud Barclays current account holder.

“I’ve tried a couple of times over the years, but it I always seem to get declined and just walk out feeling dejected.

“Having no Debit Card makes things really tricky, especially when I go back home to see my family. I end up having to take cash with me as I can’t draw any money out which isn’t ideal.

“Having a bank account it is really good news. I can buy things on the internet which can often be much cheaper.”

Anyone who would like Your Credit Union to help them open a bank account with the Bank Buddy Service call: 0207 605 6341.

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Fighting Loan Sharks on the Doorstep

The local credit union, YourCU, is taking on doorstep lenders on their ‘own’ turf by getting closer to communities that need to borrow cash in a hurry.

YourCU says the only way to compete with loan sharks is to make themselves easily available to those who need the cash. To do this, the West London-based union is introducing an outreach programme in a bid to get closer to customers.

“Loan sharks are currently winning the battle because they’re on theWilliam Rhodes_ doorstep where people need them,” said YourCU’s William Rhodes. “Credit unions should go out among the people, just like pay day lenders, to get their message across. You can’t expect people to come to us.

“It is vital residents on low incomes have access to affordable finance, a bank account, and advice on how to manage their finances.”

YourCU, which covers Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Queens Park, Kensal Green and St Mary’s Park in Brent and Queenstown in Wandsworth, provides a safe and ethical way for people to borrow money.

The union holds regular pop-up sessions at Dalgarno Community Centre in north Kensington, Beethoven Community Information Centre in Westminster, Earls Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, and the offices of Kensington & Chelsea TMO at World’s End.

YourCU has also run sessions at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council’s headquarters, local Jobcentre Plus offices, and is in talks with local church leaders about reaching out to the community.

In addition it has met with social housing providers including the Octavia housing association and Women’s Pioneer Housing and with unions, including the GMB who represent many of Westminster’s street cleaners

“There are currently a lot of politicians and people sitting around talking about this and wringing their hands on how to help people,” added William Rhodes.

“What we need is to be out in the community, where we can best help people by providing a safe and legal alternative to the ‘baseball bat brigade’.

“We need to ensure a way out for people trapped in an endless cycle of debt and 5,000% interest rates, from which many can see no way out.”

“Credit unions will also give more affluent residents in the area an opportunity to invest their money in a venture that will benefit their local community as well as giving them a financial return.”

The Bishop of Kensington recently opened an account with YourCU to support the Church’s bid to tackle payday lenders as part of a church-wide celebration to mark International Credit Union Day.

He visited the union’s pop-up branch at Dalgarno Community Centre following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the Church to build up Britain’s network of credit unions to ‘compete’ payday lenders ‘out of existence’.

There are an estimated 24,500 ‘financially excluded’ households in Kensington & Chelsea alone, each paying a ‘poverty premium’ of up to £1,000 a year through higher borrowing costs, higher bills and lack of access to cheaper deals.

YourCU are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and offer flexible loans to suit all budgets to repay on a weekly, two-weekly or monthly basis.

For further information on Your CU visit: http://www.yourcu.co.uk or telephone 0207 605 6341 or visit YourCU at 346 High Street, Kensington, W14 8NS.

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