London Mutual Credit Union has been featured in a new toolkit on tackling gambling-related financial harms produced by gambling support charity, GamCare.

The toolkit is designed to help businesses support customers who may be affected by financial harms due to gambling. It is aimed at financial institutions, gambling businesses and debt advice agencies, with the purpose of helping them to recognise, support and refer customers who may be at risk, ensuring that they receive a consistent approach.

Debt, hardship or other forms of financial difficulty can all result from high levels of gambling. Over the past year, London Mutual has been working to improve the support for members identified as being at risk of harm. These steps include:

  • Signposting loan applicants to trusted sources of support if we are unable to approve their application due to gambling risk. The Toolkit cites this as an example of positive interventions and how such communications can be handled sensitively.
  • Including a ‘gambling block’ by default on our card loan products. This prevents the card from being used for in-store or online gambling purchases. It is also designed to deter the use of borrowed funds for gambling.

London Mutual has taken these steps after seeing an increase in gambling-related issues among members in recent years – a finding that is supported by national statistics. GamCare reports that year on year, around 70% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline mention some level of gambling debt or financial hardship.

Both gamblers themselves and their loved ones can experience harms because of gambling, and the credit union regularly encounters cases where individuals have lost thousands of pounds in just a few hours through the use of mobile gaming apps. As the BBC has reported, the financial and psychological pressures of lockdown have only served to make the problem worse.

Responding to the toolkit, London Mutual’s Head of Business Development, Ben West said:

“As a credit union, the financial well-being of our members is our purpose. We therefore welcome GamCare’s toolkit, which provides much-needed advice on early identification and support to those at risk of gambling-related harms. Our team see first-hand the debt and hardship that can result when individuals gamble beyond their means. We are committed to working with our community and charitable partners to support vulnerable members, and developing new ways to support our members to make good financial choices.”

The toolkit is available for free on GamCare’s website via gamcare.org.uk/gambling-related-financial-harm. It consists of tailored materials for the banking, debt advice and gambling treatment sectors as well as gambling businesses.

These materials draw together best practice and the experiences of those who have been harmed by gambling, as well as experts from each sector. The toolkit contains core customer messaging, referral pathway guidelines, and guidance on training staff. Together, these resources can help frontline staff in key industries to provide effective, sensitive support to customers.