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News | [The Guardian] Credit unions are increasingly an alternative for banks and payday loans

Friday 21 November 2014

Membership is increasing but credit unions still have an image problem to address to bring more sustainable finance onto their balance sheets

[The Guardian] Credit unions are increasingly an alternative for banks and payday loans ScaricaAlta definizione

After more than a hundred years of being outside the mainstream financial services sector, last April it looked as though credit unions might start edging their way in.

£38m million of government funding was allocated to the Credit Union Expansion Project, with a view to growing credit union membership in the UK from just over 900,000 in 2012 to two million by 2017.

As an alternative to banks and pay day lenders, credit unions, owned by local savers and borrowers have fans who want to see a more sustainable financial system. So, is membership increasing and how is the expansion project taking shape?

The latest figures posted on the Bank of England’s website show a membership increase of almost 17% in the year ending September 2013. The previous two years saw year-on-year increases of 8% and 9%, respectively.

However, actual membership is still hovering just above the one million mark. There is a long way to go and hurdles to tackle to grow this number. Credit unions have an image problem that needs to be addressed in order to bring more sustainable finance on to their balance sheets, according to Matt Bland, policy manager at the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL).

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