Haverhill credit union manager aims to help ‘take down Wonga’

Peter Carlisle, the new manager for Haverhill's credit union run by Eastern Savings and Loans
Peter Carlisle, the new manager for Haverhill's credit union run by Eastern Savings and Loans

The manager of Haverhill’s new credit union has said that he wants to play his part in taking down payday-loan giant Wonga.

Peter Carlisle, 32, is the manager of the new Eastern Savings and Loans Haverhill credit union, which was opened on March 24 and is based at Havebury Housing Partnership’s offices in Haverhill High Street.

The credit union was set up following a £3,000 investment from Haverhill Town Council, and after one year it will be run by volunteers.

It is open from 10am to 1pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, offering advice on how to save and manage finances and also affordable loans so those in debt can dodge high-interest loans and loansharks.

It is part of the newly merged Ipswich and Suffolk Credit Union and Norwich Credit Union.

“We were very keen to establish an office in Haverhill and the mayor has been very supportive,” said Mr Carlisle, from Lewisham.

“I’ve been doing this job just over two years and have been involved with credit unions all my life, so this is a new string to my bow and I’m very much looking forward to speaking to the community about the new service.

“I believe doing this is socially responsible, as finance has a very low reputation and corporate responsibility is low.

“I’m very much a person that enjoys helping people and the satisfaction of the job is getting people back on their feet, and if we can help people to understand their finances then our job is done, as they go out educated with a better attitude to finance.”

A typical £300 loan from the credit union would have a total interest of £58.37 if paid back in 52 weekly payments of £6.90, while a typical £400 loan would have total interest of £77.84 if paid back in 52 payments of £9.19.

Mr Carlisle believes credit unions can help to combat people resorting to high-interest payday loads, adding: “The crux of it is to stop Wonga, Cheque Centres and loansharks, as they are the challenges we have in today’s financial environment.

“I want to play my part in taking Wonga down.

“That may never happen, and the fact is we have these legal loansharks operating on the high street and taking full advantage of people who aren’t really in a situation to service their loans.

“I’m dead against that as this is an important area where we should be lifting people up, not pushing them down.

“We’re all about ethical lending and don’t just loan to anyone – we want to understand about your background, your history, your problems.

“We’re here to help and that stands us out from the competition.

“People do struggle with loans, but we’re quite approachable and if people talk to us we can make adjustments.

“I think there’s a need for credit unions everywhere, and we wanted to show Haverhill there are alternatives in loaning and saving and we hope to get the local community to come on board.”

There are around 500 credit unions across the UK.

E-mail pete@eslcu.co.uk for more information

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (April 24) Echo.