THE collapse of a group praised for keeping vulnerable people away from the clutches of loan sharks has been described as 'desperately sad'.

Administrators have been called to Barrow and District Credit Union, a community savings and loans provider.

More than a thousand people who used the credit union have been assured their money is safe after the group's collapse.

Members of Barrow and District Credit Union, based at The Mall in Barrow Market Hall, will have their balances paid out in a sum expected to be around £500,000.

The credit unions's 1,200 members are due to receive their money under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Members are due to receive a cheque for their balance within the next seven days.

Barrow MP Simon Fell, a former chair of the credit union, paid tribute to the group.

He said: "This is desperately sad news.

"The credit union was a fantastic asset to the town - helping people save, and keeping them away from loan sharks and doorstep lenders.

"The team was hugely dedicated, and what has happened in Barrow is sadly not isolated.

"Covid has ravaged the credit union sector across the UK, which is presents a real risk to those who need the support and friendship that a credit union provides.

"I've no doubt that something will rise to take its place, but this is a real loss and I'd like to pay tribute to the board, staff, and members who have worked tirelessly to serve Furness."

Caroline Rainbird, the chief executive of FSCS, sought to reassure people who used the credit union.

She said: "FSCS is here to protect the members of Barrow & District Credit Union Ltd and to help them get back on track.

"We want to reassure them that their money is safe.

"No one needs to worry or do anything as they should receive their money by cheque within a week.

"We protect people's savings up to £85,000, and joint accounts up to £170,000."

James Sleight, of administrators PKF GM, said: “All of BDCU’s savers will have their balance returned by the FSCS.

"They don’t need to do anything to get their money back; savers should look out for a letter in the post from the FSCS in the next few days.”

Chairman Phil Collier last year expressed dismay at the credit union not qualifying for government support during the pandemic.

He described not qualifying for the Fair4All scheme, which aimed to support credit union through the crisis, as a 'gross omission'.

The gran funding was only available to credit unions with a loan book of £2m.

Queries about Barrow and District Credit Union Ltd can be directed to PKF Geoffrey Martin & Co Ltd.

The administrator can be contacted by telephone on 01229 520130 or 01229 870110 or e-mail