Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Computer glitch threatens Millom and District Credit Union

A COMMUNITY credit union could be forced to fold in order to ensure members can access their money ahead of Christmas.

Millom and District Credit Union, which has more than 960 members, has been placed under supervision by the Financial Services Authority, meaning it can make loan payments but cannot pay out shares or accept deposits.

The FSA imposed the restrictions because the credit union, established in 1995, is late with its accounts for July to October following complications since it switched to a new computer system.

FSA representatives from Canary Wharf, London, will travel to Millom on Friday to discuss the matter.

Chairwoman Tess Fitzwilliam insists the accounts are without any irregularities.

But if the union cannot prove the accounts for the outstanding three months are sound, Ms Fitzwilliam said it may have to fold to ensure members can access their shares for the expensive Christmas period.

The members’ shares would be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the credit union closed.

Ms Fitzwilliam, of Haverigg, said the credit union took on the new computer system to become more efficient, but there were complications which left the final three months’ accounts “tangled”.

She said the accounts for the first nine months were labelled “excellent” by the FSA and felt the authority could have been more flexible given that the credit union has had no problems in its 17-year history.

She said: “They have known about this for the last five months and to put the notice on five weeks before Christmas, it’s very disappointing because we’re a thriving credit union.

“It’s been very uncomfortable.

“We have had it for 17 years and it’s a good friend to our members. They don’t want to lose it and we’re fighting like made to save it.

“It’s intransigent of the FSA, they’re not being adaptable.”

Should the credit union fold, Ms Fitzwilliam said it would be hard to revive, due to it being run on a voluntary basis, except for two admin staff who work a combined 46 hours a week.

She said: “It’s a very sad situation. Nobody is going to lose their money – the members all know their money is insured.

“It’s losing the credit union that would be the tragic bit.”

A spokeswoman for the FSA said the authority could not comment.

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