For those in the UK who can’t access mainstream credit such as a bank loan, fair and affordable lenders like credit unions provide a lifeline.

Responsible, affordable credit could allow you to pay for unexpected costs that may come up and make essential purchases that are otherwise unaffordable upfront. A lack of access to credit can see people going without essential appliances such as a washing machine, or being unable to afford school uniforms or Birthday/Christmas presents for children.


Credit Unions

Credit unions offer a wide range of financial products and services to suit customers from all walks of life.

All credit unions offer savings accounts and loans. Many offer a wide choice of additional products such as junior savings accounts, Christmas savings accounts, prepaid debit cards, insurance products, cash ISAs and in some cases even mortgages.

There’s no “one size fits all” rule in credit unions, and there is great diversity in the sort of service and access points that different credit unions offer in order to meet the different range of customer preferences and expectations.

To find your local credit union visit:


Responsible Finance

Responsible finance providers offer simple, affordable loans when the bank can’t help. They have created a directory of responsible finance providers who provide finance that is fair and also offer support and advice. To see which responsible finance providers operate where you live visit:


Fair for you

Fair for You is an alternative to high cost weekly payment stores:

You buy now directly from their suppliers by taking out a loan from them, and then pay later in flexible instalments. You pay what you can afford, when you can afford it and the faster you pay it off, the less you pay.

Fair for You is a not for profit alternative to high cost credit, offering flexible, affordable and ethical loans for household items through our online high-street. Please visit:


Stop loan sharks

Loan sharks are illegal lenders, often targeting low income and desperate families. Borrowing from them is never a good idea – even if you feel you have no other options. The money you borrow will come at a very high price. One person who borrowed £500 ended up repaying £88,000!

How to spot a loan shark

A loan shark might:

  • give little or no paperwork
  • refuse to give information, such as how much you owe
  • hold items such as passports and bank cards as security
  • increase the debt or add extra charges at any time
  • refuse to allow you to repay your debt in full
  • threaten and intimidate

Anyone lending money should have the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Legal lenders have to comply with strict guidance and ensure they are dealing with customers fairly, using proper paperwork and legal collection methods.

You can check if a company is authorised to lend money by visiting  

If you are aware of loans sharks operating in your area and want to get advice and support 24/7, please call the Stop Loan Sharks helpline on 0300 555 222.

Community Projects

We have launched a range of projects for our customers that offer employment support, digital training and wellbeing.

Useful links

Universal Credit

Your quick reference guide to regulations, guidance and case law.

Advice Local

Find help with benefits, work, money, housing problems and more.

Help and Support

Get help and support from Cotman's Money Advice Team


Tel: 01772 666446.