A CITY organisation has helped more than 4000 people who would otherwise have turned to loan sharks or high-interest credit in the past year.

Scotcash was set up in January 2007 in Glasgow city centre to provide affordable loans, financial support and guidance to some of the most vulnerable people in Glasgow.

Its latest report shows it approved 1792 loans totalling more than £866,000 in the past year.

The organisation also saved customers who would have had no option but to take out high-interest loans almost £400,000 in interest payments.

It also helped 100 customers open a credit union savings account and provided money and debt advice to 631 new clients with collective debts of more than £2.4million.

The organisation, which previously won a Community Champion runner up award, generated more than £400,000 in financial gains through benefit claims and other advice.

It offers personal loans starting from just £50 and is an alternative for loans when a bank or building society cannot or will not help, with loans based on current circumstances and not past credit history.

Carlene O'Carroll, of Scotcash, said: "Scotcash has made real progress in tackling financial exclusion in Glasgow over the past year.

"More than 4000 people approached our services for advice.

"The report recognises the already significant progress Scotcash has made in meeting the needs of those living in poverty and finding themselves financially excluded.

"There are still significant challenges for Glaswegians though, in relation to meeting rising living costs as well as those presented by welfare reform

"We continue to see demand increase for all of the services we provide, whether this is access to banking, affordable credit or money advice."

The Scotcash annual report shows the average term of a loan is 40 weeks with average weekly repayments of almost £17.

The largest number of loans are for home decora-tion or improvements, followed by Christmas, holidays, family events such as birthdays, weddings and funerals and for car purchases or repairs.

Most customers are lone parents with dependent children closely followed by single person households.

The largest number of loans are taken by people aged between 25 and 34 followed by those 35 to 49.

Almost half the customers rent their homes from social landlords and a quarter from Glasgow Housing Association.

The group's funding partners are Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

City councillor Paul Rooney said: "Scotcash makes a huge contribution to the work we and our partners are undertaking to make sure Glaswegians have access to sustainable finance and sound advice on debt, credit and savings.

"It has proven effective in supporting people to escape the trap of unaffordable credit and begin to stabilise their home finances."