A CASH-STRAPPED council has dug deep to support its local credit union with a £50,000 grant.

Darlington Borough Council’s leader Bill Dixon announced the grant yesterday, saying it would play a part in steering the town’s residents away from payday lenders and unaffordable loans.

The money has been granted to Darlington Credit Union, which will use it to support people needing to buy household goods and furnishings.

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The scheme will offer the town’s residents affordable loans as an alternative to the high interest rates offered by some high street retailers and payday loan companies.

Councillor Dixon said: “This is a £50,000 investment that could save people in the Borough more than £250,000.

“That has got to be a good investment. Despite us being desperately short of cash it is something we can do to that will have major benefits for people.

“There are an awful lot of people only just making ends meet and all they need is a washer or a fridge to go and they are in real trouble.”

Tony Brockley, chair of Darlington Credit Union, welcomed the funding boost.

He said: “A problem people have is that they manage to get a property but then have to afford the things to put in there.

“We all want things straight away and the temptation is to go to places where their weekly payments look appealing.

“We are trying to offer a sensible alternative and it is great that the council is willing to support an initiative which helps tenants to avoid future debt.

“If tenants are not taking on punitive debt at high rates over long terms then the chances of them falling into debt or arrears are less.”