Bridgend credit union help for Parc prisoners

Money and credit cards in wallet Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon said it would mean more help for people with poor credit history

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A credit union is using new powers to help inmates at a prison near Bridgend save money for their release.

Removal of restrictions mean credit unions can offer services to more members and communities.

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon said one example was a project running at Parc Prison.

She said the credit union was encouraging inmates to save for their release and to help them through the first weeks once they were out.

Ms Moon, vice-chairman of the all party credit union group in the House of Commons, says the credit union reforms will help many people.

She told the BBC Radio Wales' politics programme Sunday Supplement: "What it's done is opened up the number of people they can reach.

"Not only that they can now go out to businesses, they can now go out to housing associations.

"It means they can now offer interest rates rather than a dividend so they become more attractive as a way of saving and a way of looking at loans."

The new powers are the result of legal changes which give credit unions more flexibility to choose who can access their services.

Insurance and banking

"This is going to allow credit unions to grow and expand and hopefully to build networks," added Ms Moon.

She said it would allow them to offer services such as telephone or internet banking and insurance.

Until now there were restrictions which meant all of their members had to have something in common - such as living in the same geographical area or working for the same employer.

Ms Moon said her local credit union, Bridgend Life Savers Group - was expanding in two ways - opening up a shop front and working on a project with Parc Prison.

"They are working with prisoners to help build up savings prior to release," she explained.

"We know that for prisoners the most dangerous time is coming out of prison, finding they've got no money, their benefits have not come in and they are in trouble.

"We are going to get them working at saving and the credit union is going to be there to see them through that first couple of weeks."

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