One third of Leeds residents don’t know how – or if – they will be able to pay for Christmas 2021, according to a new survey by financial services provider Leeds Credit Union.
The survey highlights the financial stress many face in the run up to Christmas, with the Covid-19 crisis having already led to significant falls in employment, earnings and income over the last 18 months.
Leeds Credit Union’s annual Christmas survey of its members also revealed that one in four of the region’s residents are worse off financially than at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, with 12% saying they would need to borrow money to pay for Christmas. 50% of respondents also said they would be looking for more discounts, offers and sale items than usual when Christmas shopping due to financial constraints, while 66% said that they have looked for online deals over Black Friday weekend to help minimise costs.
The survey, which looked at Leeds Credit Union’s members’ financial circumstances and spending plans in the run-up to Christmas, also showed that 42% of people felt they wouldn’t be able to afford the Christmas they wanted, echoing this time last year when many households struggled to afford the festive period.
The survey also revealed local residents’ feelings about Covid-19, with 65% of respondents saying they would be avoiding the high street in favour of shopping online this year in order to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
Paul Kaye, CEO at Leeds Credit Union, said:
“We want local people to enjoy the festive season but we know it’s tempting to overstretch your spending at this time of year. Our advice is to try and resist that temptation and only spend what you can afford. People may be tempted to borrow money from doorstep lenders or loan sharks, inadvertently putting themselves in an even worse financial situation, it is important they know that we are here to offer low cost, ethical loans should they need us.
“We have identified the desire to shop local whilst also doing more online – so we are meeting our members’ needs with access to our app or online banking, and faster payment services. We are your local credit union and we are here to help.”
In addition to the financial support and advice on offer, the credit union will also be sponsoring Child Friendly Leeds’ Christmas party, for a number of vulnerable children from some of the city’s most deprived areas. Those involved will get to meet, receive a gift from and have a photo taken with Santa to provide them with a happy memory and experience this festive season.
Discussing the initiative, Kaye added:
“It’s important to all of us at Leeds Credit Union we give back to our local communities and I can’t think of anything better than trying to make local children’s Christmas special.”
Councillor Venner, Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships; Chair of Health and Wellbeing Board, commented:
“Thank you to Leeds Credit Union for your support in enabling us to provide this wonderful memory for care experienced children and young people this Christmas. This will make such a positive impact to each of our young people and gives them a physical keepsake for their life story boxes.
“Care experienced children and young people may have multiple foster placements throughout their childhood and their life story boxes are a way for them to create their own histories, which is something we are committed to supporting at Child Friendly Leeds.”
Leeds Credit Union is a financial cooperative with 37,000 members that is available to anyone who lives or works in Leeds, Wakefield, Harrogate or Craven, residents of certain housing associations and employees of a number of additional ‘Select’ employers.
This post is based a press release issued on behalf of Leeds Credit Union
Photo: Paul Kaye, CEO at Leeds Credit Union by Shaun Flannery