Founded in 1982, First Rate Credit Union is an employee-based credit union, available to all British employees of BAE Systems. It was one of the first employee-based credit unions in the country.
First Rate was founded in 1982, three years after the introduction of the Credit Union act. Those early nineteen eighties officers from British Aerospace Employees Credit Union were following the football pools collector around the shop floor and hiding when the demand for loans became too great. Business was conducted in the living rooms of volunteers during evenings and weekends.
One of the first employee credit unions in the country, First Rate Credit Union as it is now known has gone through three name changes and two common bond changes, and celebrated its 21st birthday in 2003 with 700 members and a common bond covering all British employees of BAE Systems. In the early years, the founders were nurtured along by Len Nuttall of the then named Credit Union League of Great Britain, now ABCUL. With Len’s help, guidance and enthusiasm the credit union has survived these years.
Thanks to a service level agreement with sponsoring employers BAE Systems, the credit union now has excellent office accommodation.The company also committed to supporting the credit union as it rolled out its services to BAE Systems’ other British sites, apart from those already covered by other credit unions, such as First Shipbuilders.In the first twenty-one years, the credit union has lent out over 2 million to their members.
In 2016 the credit union announced the opening of a new office in the center of Barrow in Furness. This was achieved through a ground-breaking partnership between two established Credit Unions. First Rate Credit Union and Barrow & District Credit Union.
It must be recorded that first Rate Credit Union has had from its beginning in 1982 links with the Northwest chapter of credit unions, later Manchester chapter and currently now the North west Forum of Credit Unions.
They have to top the league for the most unusual purpose for a loan — credit union member Tony Green used his First Rate loan to help build a replica of the now famous “CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG CAR”
The credit union in later years aimed to achieve version 2 status in order to offer more services to their members. On the 20th September 2012 the new office officially opens at Salisbury site and the 30thanniversary was celebrated. To mark this momentous occasion the FRCU Board, welcomed guests from BAE Systems to join the celebrations and in that year membership grew to over 1400 members with savings and loans totaling over three million. February 2013 the dividend of 4.25% and February 2014, the the dividend was also 4.25%.
In 2020 despite its physical offices still being closed since lock-down began back in March, First Rate Credit Union has paid out £1.5 Million in savings and loans to members to get them through those difficult months. First Rate has enjoyed a successful year of consolidation, increasing its lending and income, strengthening its regulatory reserves whilst at the same time reducing loan arrears and offering a high rate of return to savers.
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