Credit unions – ANEC responds to Government's call for evidence

28 August 2014

2014 is the fiftieth anniversary year of the credit union movement in the United Kingdom. The Government has issued a ‘call for evidence’ seeking views on what more can be done to help credit unions to thrive and grow in a sustainable manner.

All local authorities in the North East recognise the importance of credit unions as an accessible and sustainable source of banking and credit, and have adopted a variety of practical ways of giving practical support. ANEC has supported this work, for example by organising a seminar for local authorities and partner organisations to share best practice.

ANEC has responded to the call for evidence by detailing some of the initiatives that member authorities are taking. These include:

•    Direct investment through grant funding and/or taking shares;
•    Providing professional advice and help with things such as developing business plans and bids for funding;
•    Providing premises and collection points;
•    Promoting the credit union through their residents’ magazines, publicity in libraries, websites etc;
•    Setting up payroll deduction schemes;
•    Introducing the credit union to local employers and working with specific sectors of the local economy (for example, one council has participated in a scheme to encourage local taxi drivers to use the credit union);
•    Setting up a scheme that enables people to buy items of furniture and white goods at low rates of interest, as an alternative to expensive high street providers.

Councils are also taking action to discourage residents from using high-cost lenders, legal and illegal, for example by blocking access to payday lenders’ websites from council computers. Councils are working with the national Illegal Money Lending Team to target loan sharks; they are also lobbying for an extension of their planning and licensing powers to limit expansion of high-cost lenders on the high street.

These are just a few examples of good practice by North East councils in working with the credit union sector and helping it to develop.

The full response can be read here.