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Halton Credit Union Pivotal to Community says New CEO

The new CEO of Halton Credit Union, Gareth Heesom has spoken to people in Runcorn this week at a community shop to encourage people to join their local credit union.


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Friday 26 January 2024

The new CEO of Halton Credit Union, Gareth Heesom has spoken to people in Runcorn this week at a community shop to encourage people to join their local credit union.

Gareth brings more than two decades of experience to the role, having started out in the field in the area 22 years ago when the borough’s branches were yet to be brought together under the Halton banner, and most recently as finance manager.

He said his early to-do list includes holding a review of services and finding out what members and residents want and need and also to promote the credit union’s work including liaising with other third sector groups such as Community Shop and Citizens Advice.

The appointment comes at a critical time for the organisation also, with the nation enduring a cost-of-living and inflation crisis, increased interest and mortgage rates and the UK facing recession.

Despite those pressures, he said Halton Credit Union has managed to resist putting up its rates and “absorb” more of the hit as a buffer for its around 6,500 members.

His first full month in charge also arrived during peak season, with half of its business expected to occur between October and December, handling 100 loan enquiries on “hectic” days and about 600 during its busiest week of the year.

Amounts borrowed vary between the lower end of the scale around £70-£100 up to the maximum of £5,000 with interest rates depending on whether the person borrowing is a shareholder with savings or a means-tested borrower.

Members can also deposit cash and earn dividends on their savings, with Gareth’s review to examine other options such as making interest on savings.

Halton Credit Union’s work has earned plaudits in recent years including Mike Amesbury MP, who said the “ethical lender” was a vital alternative to unscrupulous lenders such as loan sharks – who are estimated by the national England Illegal Money Lending Team to have up to 1.08 million residents in debt to them in the country and some loan shark debtors now even paying via bank transfer.

Contrasted to that, Gareth said Halton Credit Union is: “looking to get the best results for members”.

Outlining the reasons for the credit union’s review, Gareth said: “I’ve been involved for 22 years. That’s before Halton (Credit Union) formed, there were three credit unions. We’ve brought new products in and tweaked things but this is the first time we’ve done a full review. We’re keen to see if there’s any way we can be better for membership.”

Asked for the best way for people to contact Halton Credit Union and outlining his hopes for the future, Gareth said: “They can give us a call. They’ll probably start seeing us a lot more at community events, we want to be more involved in the community and seeing what we can do, not just during the cost-of-living crisis but moving forward.”

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