• Prisoners Offered a Financial Lifeline

    Cheshire Neighbours Credit Union (CNCU) is working with Shelter UK to offer budgeting accounts to people in prison reaching the end of their terms, to reduce social exclusion, homelessness and re-offending.

    The joint initiative which is to be piloted at HMP Risley and Styal, will provide financial services to inmates and provide them with budgetPrison 2 management skills to prepare them for release and beyond.

    A report by the Prison Reform Trust and UNLOCK,  the National Association of Reformed Offenders ‘Time is money: financial responsibility after prison’, has found that a third of people in prison have no access to bank accounts and that more than half have been rejected bank loans.

    The report also found that people in prison were ten times more likely to have borrowed from a loan shark than the average UK household.  This, the report argues, drives up crime as people take desperate measures to avoid the often violent techniques of unlicensed doorstep lenders.

    Furthermore, newly-released prisoners often have difficultly renting a property, as many landlords demand payment by standing order or direct debit.

    Shelter, the housing and homeless charity, helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through their advice, support and legal services.  They offer advice and a range of services to prisoners and ex-offenders.

    Rachel O’Connor, Shelter’s “Through the Gate” Greater Manchester & Cheshire Team Leader said: “Improving money management skills on release from custody is an essential element to reduce re-offending. This joint initiative will link the credit union accounts in with Shelters existing Money Management Course in HMP Risley and HMP Styal. Shelter is looking forward to working with the credit union to enable clients to open accounts in custody and therefore manage their money better on release.”

    CNCU’s CEO John Weir commented: “This is not only a very exciting project working with Shelter within the Cheshire prisons, but one which will benefit those who need money management and will provide confidence that they have banking facilities in place not only prior to release, but on-going.”  John further added: “The budget account includes the provision unique to the credit unions to ensure that all essential bills are paid regularly; thereby keeping finances under control.

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