In accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972 the Chairmanof the Committee has agreed to allow consideration of this item as a matter of urgency.
Consideration of the report was deferred at the last meeting of the Cabinet as the Chairman of the Finance Policy Development Committee was unable to attend; it should however have been included on the agenda for this meeting. It is, therefore, now being added as an additional item in order to prevent any further delay to the consideration of its recommendations.
To receive the report of the Finance Policy Development Committee.
The Leader was of the opinion that this matter should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency in order to prevent any further delay in considering the recommendations of the Finance Policy Development Group. Consideration of the matter had been deferred at the previous meeting because the Group’s Chairman, Councillor F Keegan, had been unable to attend.
Councillor Keegan was present at the meeting and, at the invitation of the Chairman, presented the report. Mr John Weir, the Chairman of the Cheshire Neighbours Credit Union, was also present and was afforded the opportunity to speak on the matter.
The report presented the recommendations of the Finance Policy Development Group in relation to Council support for Cheshire Neighbours Credit Union (CNCU). The recommendations had not been fully considered in terms of legal, financial, risk management and policy implications and further work was needed to consider whether the actions recommended were viable.
A variety of initiatives had recently been implemented by the Council to discourage residents from turning to payday lenders for high interest, short term loans that could lead to significant fees that people were unable to afford, causing them considerable financial difficulty. The Group’s aim in making the recommendations had been to create a viable and ethical alternative to pay day lenders for residents across Cheshire East that provided quality services and was financially sustainable. Further details were contained in the report.
1. the report of the Finance Policy Development Group be noted;
2. the Policy Development Group’s recommended aims and objectives for the Credit Union as set out in section 11 of the report be endorsed;
3. the following recommendations, and the suggested approach to implementation in paragraph 13.1 of the report, be approved:
(a) that CNCU be given access to the libraries in Nantwich, Middlewich, Alsager, Sandbach and Macclesfield for at least two hours per week to increase visibility and to improve public access to its services. This would include, where possible, access to private meeting rooms for interviews and confidential discussions with members;
(b) that library staff in the libraries listed above be enabled to handle enquiries and general information requests about CNCU by receiving a training brief from CNCU;
(c) that consideration be given to providing CNCU with access to suitable Council owned office premises in Crewe, free of charge if possible. Ideally the office would allow public to access services from the street as well as storage space and access to private meeting rooms for interviews and confidential meetings;
(d) that the payroll deduction scheme offered by CNCU be promoted to Cheshire East employees via the CEntranet and Staff Notice Boards;
(e) that recruitment of volunteers from within the Council with marketing, finance or IT skills to help CNCU be carried out via CEntranet, Staff Notice Boards and the Council Website;
(f) that Cheshire East Councillors be encouraged to support credit unions by promoting them within their communities and sharing expertise through volunteering;
(g) that the Council encourage partners such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Registered Social Landlords and Community Groups to support and promote CNCU within their memberships;
(h) that links to CNCU’s website be included on the Council’s website; and
(i) that a scheme to provide Cheshire East Care Leavers with membership to CNCU be initiated including funding for membership fees.