Savings scheme faces demand above the expected level

RESIDENTS unable to obtain bank accounts will have help, thanks to a project which has opened its doors to new customers.

Peter Neville of Guernsey Community Savings. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28744535)
Peter Neville of Guernsey Community Savings. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28744535)

Guernsey Community Savings in the Bordage is faced with an unexpected level of demand.

The project has been pursued for the past four years by the charity’s chairman, Peter Neville, pictured, a former director-general of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.

‘I am so proud of the team and grateful to all the donors and supporters who have made this possible,’ he said.

‘Our aim is to help anyone who is financially excluded for whatever reason, including former prisoners, those leaving care, people with debt problems, and those affected by relationship breakdown or other personal crises.

‘This is so important, to encourage and help people take control of their lives, start building savings and become full members of the community.’

He added that now they were under way and taking on their first customers, it had become clear that initial estimates of 100-150 customers four years ago had increased as more agencies come forward to refer customers – from around seven initially to roughly 20 agencies.

‘More agencies want to refer customers to us and many of our customers have complex needs and helping them can be very time-consuming,’ he said.

‘The economic and social consequences of the Covid pandemic have also increased the numbers needing support, and changes within the banking system mean people are having to find other ways to access the financial system.

‘As awareness grows of what GCS does, we are also receiving requests to extend its services and this has a knock-on effect on the very modest resources we have at the moment.

‘We may have to consider that and go back to our funders and we’ve actually started talking to our donors about that issue.’

Mr Neville said he supported the government’s recent call to introduce simpler and more effective processes for funding and working with the third sector and looked forward to working with them further.

‘We would like to discuss working together to support those who are most risk during this period of economic challenge and recovery,’ he said.

‘A number of possible initiatives come to mind, such as on the social side, a help to save scheme like that in the UK, which will help people on low incomes to save money and the government puts in a percentage after a number of years too.

‘Something like this would help to encourage people to save and could help people get back on their feet perhaps and through crises.’

The main donors of the project are the Guernsey Community Foundation and Lloyds Bank Foundation for the Channel Islands, with VFX Financial, the principal partners in the initiative.

GCS has also announced that Bailiff Richard McMahon has agreed to become the charity’s patron.

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