Council leader David Sheard has defended Kirklees Council’s reasons for loaning £200,000 of council money to the Castle and Minster Credit Union saying there is no shame in helping the poor.

And his comments came as he meets Yorkshire leaders to urge them to bypass the government to apply for EU funding for food banks.

Clr Sheard criticised the government for rejecting EU money that could have seen up to £22m for food banks. The government has said the money was in the UK’s EU budget anyway.

He said: “In the UK, central government has always said they’d do our bidding for us and we’d benefit from that.

“In most parts of the EEC regions can apply to the EEC for money.

“We in the north should unite in a direct approach to the EU to bypass the millionaires’ government of the south and ask the EU for the money to be paid to the north.”

Clr Sheard said the support for food banks was part of their priority to help those who hit hard times, which is why they backed £200,000 for the credit union last week.

Clr David Sheard.
 

He said: “We’ve got a strategy of trying to help our communities ... we want them to avoid the pay day loans market which are in the market of high interest loans. We see the alternative to that market as the credit union.”

There was no danger of the credit union going bust and they are covered by the financial services compensation scheme so savers cash is secure. The council cash has helped them ahead of a relaunch.

Clr Phil Scott, Almondbury Lib Dem, said it was “commendable” that they chose to support the community, but asked if it was wise given the cuts the council needs to make.

Clr Sheard added: “We had the strike, we saved some money. I personally think that we should use it to help poorer members of our community.

“Our priority happens to be helping the people in need, I’ve no shame whatsoever in saying that is why we are doing this.”