Questions and Answers



About KCB

We're a credit union, a properly registered financial firm, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. We provide Members with access to affordable loans and provide opportunities to save with us. When you save with us, you are a part-owner and have shares in your local community bank!

Absolutely - it is fully guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the same government-backed scheme that protects deposits with high street banks.

Joining

Anybody over the age of 18 who lives or works in Fife can apply to join Kingdom. You can apply online, it is quick and easy to do.

Yes, you can. To be able to apply online you must have a working e-mailing address. You can print out our paper application form, complete using a pen and then post it back to us or pop it into a branch (or through the letterbox).  If you don't have a printer, you can collect an application form at a branch.

Receiving Benefits

Yes, you can.  We have a track record in providing loans to people in receipt of benefits and issue thousands of loans every year to these Members.  However, nobody is entitled to a loan, under any circumstances, and every loan application must meet the criteria set out in our Lending Policy.

Because we've been helping people on benefits over many years, we do take this into account and can help Members to access low cost credit, improve their credit rating and even access free, confidential money management advice if they want it.

If we say no to a loan it is not because you are on benefits – it is because you don’t meet the criteria in our Lending Policy. 

Yes, you can.  We receive benefits payments into our bank account at around 09:30/09:45. We process thousands of benefits transactions every month, with payments going into Member’s accounts usually by around 10am on the same day.

Sometimes we don’t get the payments into our bank account by 09:45, and on some occasions we get a single, large payment for dozens of Members without the detail of how it should be broken down (i.e. how much money should be transferred to Members).  Although some Members get the same amount each time, many don’t and changes happen.  We therefore must wait for this information from the DWP/HMRC/Bank of Scotland before we are able to process it. 

If we haven’t been given this information automatically our staff then have to process hundreds of transactions manually which takes time.

Please be assured that we will always prioritise making these transfers and we work as hard as we can to do them correctly and quickly.  We know how frustrating it can be to have to wait longer than you expect to.  We ask Members not to phone up to chase benefits payment before 12 noon.  If your payment isn’t with you by 12 noon then please contact us and we’ll be able to tell if there’s a problem or change to your payment.

All loan applicants seeking an unsecured loan where a significant proportion of their income is from benefits will be required to complete a Benefit Form. The Form allows us to have your benefit payment sent directly to us, we will deduct the loan payment and make the remaining benefit available to you.  This is a condition of receiving such a loan from us. 

We do this to reduce bad debt, reduce our costs in recovering bad debt and to make it as easy as possible for Members to keep on top of their loan repayments.  This helps to maintain or improve your credit rating too.

Loans

Sorry, but we can’t provide an answer to that. Members should ask for the amount of money that they need for the purpose of the loan.  They should also think about affordability when deciding that.  Our Loans page includes a loan calculator and can show how long a loan can be spread over, so that you can see how much you can borrow if you want to repay, for example, £80 per month and so on.

In some cases, where affordability is not so great, we will limit the loan we are willing to offer to try to ensure it is affordable. Sometimes, this will mean offering the same as you were offered the last time.  In some cases, we will be unable to offer what you were offered the last time - current circumstances, payment history and much more are all taken into account to ensure the loan is affordable and that we are acting responsibly when we lend to Members.

Therefore, we do offer lower amounts to some Members rather than just declining the application.

The maximum is £12,000 in total, across all loans that can be held at any one time with us.

A ‘top-up’ loan, as it is known, is in fact a new loan that is taken out for the original amount of a loan that has not yet been repaid.  Members must have repaid at least a third of the current loan before we will consider a ‘top-up’.

In certain circumstances we will consider topping up to a slightly higher amount if affordability is evident and the repayment history is good.

Only Members can apply for a loan from us.  We are owned by our Members and can only provide loans or support to Members.  Joining is quick and easy.  You need to live or work in Fife to apply to join.  Once you have joined you are able to apply for a loan.  All loans are offered subject to Terms and Conditions as set out in our Loan Agreement.  Loans are assessed in line with our Lending Policy which sets out the criteria for deciding whether or not we can approve a loan to a Member.

We strongly encourage Members to apply for a loan through our website.  This is quicker and easier for Members and for us, reducing the time it takes to process loans and take decisions.

All you need to have is a working e-mail address and access to an internet browser (it can be done on smartphones but we strongly recommend using a tablet, laptop or computer screen – it is much easier).

If you really can’t do it online then we can still accept paper loan applications. This can be obtained from our branches or they can be downloaded and printed from our website if necessary.  Once completed, just post it through the letterbox or drop it in to either branch.

We need recent bank statements to help us to ensure that any loan we may offer is affordable for you in your current circumstances.  If you apply for a secured by shares loan (i.e. the loan is of a lower value than the total savings you hold with us), we won’t need bank statements.  If it is a new loan, we need 3 months of statements.  A ‘top-up’ loan will require the most recent month’s statement.

We appreciate that it can be tricky to submit statements depending on how you bank with and how you do your banking.  We are working hard to make it as easy as we can.  We have just launched an OpenBanking system which is quite new in the UK and allows customers of the main banks to provide us with secure access to their statements in a just a couple of minutes, online on any device they choose and when and where they choose to do it.  This is a very secure system where you can withdraw permission any time you want. 

When you apply for a loan, or when we contact you to request statements, we will provide details of how to use the OpenBanking system.

OpenBanking is a technical platform that allows financial firms to securely share certain data, but only with specific permission from the customer.  Kingdom uses OpenBanking to access bank statement details in a safe, encrypted way.

We will ask you to log into our OpenBanking provider’s system, tell us who you bank with, login to your bank the way you normally would and then give us permission to access your bank statement.  We will only have read-only access, we can’t make any changes to your account, issue any instructions to your bank or set up or amend any standing orders, direct debits or anything like that.  We certainly cannot take any money out of your account!

This new system means that we can be granted access to your statements within minutes of you applying for a loan with us.  This has the potential to speed up loan processing significantly, reducing paper usage and reducing the amount of time and effort Members need to spend on the loan application process.  It is also the most secure way of providing your statements.

No. We will not force Members to agree to the use of OpenBanking – you can still provide paper statements or high quality, full digital copies if you prefer.

However, using OpenBanking is considerably easier and quicker for Members and it is also the most secure way of sharing your statement data with us.

It can with other loan providers, but Kingdom does not record applications for loans with credit reference agencies.  We do record loans and missed repayments, defaults etc., but we do not record applications.

Assessing Loans

No, we don’t.  We do reserve the right to credit check any applicant, at any stage.  It costs us money to do credit searches so we don’t do it lightly.  We do them to ensure we have a good, up to date picture of the Member’s credit position to ensure we take a decision that is fair for them and us. 

If you are applying for a fully secured loan against your shares, we will not run a credit check.

We do not have a threshold for credit scores.  Some people can get a reasonably high credit score but a new loan from us would be unaffordable. Some people can have very low credit scores but have demonstrated that they’ve repaid us before.  A lot of factors are taken into account when assessing a loan.  That is why it can take longer than some people might expect.  Our trained and skilled staff assess every loan, with many being assessed by more than one staff Member.  We do not use automated decision systems, every single loan application is looked at individually and assessed on its merits.

We process thousands of loan applications every year.  For the three months to October 2020 we approved 85% of all applications and declined 15% 

We really do want to lend to Members, but we will always do so responsibly and without putting Members in a position where the loan is likely to be unmanageable.

We have to decline loans that don’t meet the criteria in our Lending Policy. Essentially, this is where the loan would breach the law, regulations, be irresponsible (put a Member into financial difficulty) or present too much risk to us.  We can only continue to provide low cost affordable loans to Members if our loans are repaid.  If our thorough assessment process shows a greater risk of the loan being unmanageable and/or becoming a bad debt, we will decline to offer the loan.

Our Lending Policy is on our website for all Members to see – there are very clear rules in there.  In terms of affordability, there are many factors taken into account including the specific credit history, repayment history and regular expenses of the Member.

We do get asked this but unfortunately it is almost impossible for two people from different households to have exactly the same circumstances.  You may receive the same benefits or have the same income level, but the nature of everybody’s expenditure – what they spend on different things – varies significantly, as well as their credit and repayment history.  Every loan is individually assessed on affordability for that particular Member.

Typically, our staff will spend a total of 2 hours assessing a loan application during the whole process.  We check to ensure it has been completed correctly, all of the required information has been submitted and is correct and then we look at affordability and so on.

However, we process more than 6,000 applications every year. Some days we’ll get less than 10 loan applications, other days we’ll get well over 50.  Some Members can take a long time to submit information like bank statements or the Benefit Form.  This means that, on average, it can take up to 2-3 weeks to assess a loan application from when it is first submitted.  Some will take less time than that, but we cannot guarantee turnaround times.

We implemented a new online loan application system in July 2020. Further enhancements are being introduced which should see the average turnaround time reduce to less than one week.  We are aiming for a 2-3 day turnaround time.

We’re sorry, but all decisions to decline are double checked against our Lending Policy and will have been carefully assessed.  A decision to decline is final unless significant new information is introduced – for example, additional income or you want to include your partner’s income and expenses to help demonstrate affordability.

We ask that you wait 12 weeks before applying again.  Our system knows when you last applied, so please don’t apply within 12 weeks.  It is highly unlikely that your financial position will have improved significantly in just a few weeks.  If your circumstances do change significantly, or you want to include your partners income and expenses, then please do apply again, just as soon as you want to.

Applying for a loan with Kingdom does not affect your credit rating.

Sometimes Members need a loan for an emergency repair or issue that they didn’t foresee and may still want to borrow some additional monies for Christmas or some other reason.  This is often referred to as a ‘top-up’ loan, whereby we may be able to lend back to the amount of the original loan.  Members must have repaid at least a third of the current loan before we will consider a ‘top-up’.

In certain circumstances we will consider topping up to a slightly higher amount if affordability is evident and the repayment history is good.

There is a good chance that you will get another loan from us in such circumstances, but we always look into your financial position to ensure that you can afford the loan you are asking for.  Sometimes it will be irresponsible of us to lend to a Member, regardless of previous history.  We’re sorry about that and we don’t like to say no, but we will always do what we think is fair and responsible for our Members.

Saving

Credit unions and community co-operative banks like Kingdom have a limit on how much Members can save (hold in shares).  At Kingdom, that limit is £15,000 per Member.

Savings held with Kingdom are converted to shares and we look to pay a dividend on shares each year at our Annual General Meeting (AGM).  All Members with savings are shareholders and entitled to vote at our AGM.  If we make a profit, Members can decide to pay a dividend which will be proportionate based on the amount of shares (savings) held.  We have paid a dividend each year in recent years. A dividend is not guaranteed, although your savings (shares) held with us are guaranteed and protected, in full, by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  

Unlike shares held in private businesses, this is a co-operative, and your shares will not fluctuate in price and won't be lost/worthless should Kingdom fail as a business - you will receive all of your savings back should Kingdom fail.  Kingdom has no plans to fail - we're significantly more robust than many credit unions, comfortably exceeding the thresholds (ratios) set by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.

Payroll

Yes, you can if your employer is a payroll partners of Kingdom.  If they are, we can deduct an amount each pay period (week, month etc.) for saving and/or repaying a loan with us.  By doing it through your payroll you will receive a lower interest rate.

If your employer is not yet a Kingdom payroll partner, contact us and we will share information with your employer on the benefits of providing payroll saving in their workplace.  There is no cost to employers to become a payroll partner and Kingdom can provide the paperwork and support to get it all set up.

If you are not able to pay directly from your payroll then you can set up a Standing Order to transfer money to your Kingdom account just after you get paid.  Contact us if you need any help to set this up.

Junior savers

Money help

Miscellaneous

We’re very sorry but our online account access system is very dated and unreliable. It just doesn’t work as well as we would like.  It is tied into the banking software we use.  In 2020 we took a decision to invest in new banking software which will bring new online account access with it.  This will be much easier and quicker, and will not see the same high level of failed login attempts.  The new system does not rely on the antiquated system of posting PIN numbers to your home – this will be done using text messaging and e-mails.  It will be much quicker to get access, even if you forget your security details.

The new system will be fully up and running at the start of 2021.