The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions held its fifth annual International Credit Union Day (ICUD) reception on Wednesday.
The reception followed the election of a new Chair to the Group, Jeremy Quin MP, who represents Horsham, West Sussex in the Commons and prior to becoming an MP in 2015 was a director of Swan Credit Union in Milton Keynes and is currently a member of the Financial Inclusion Commission. He was joined in welcoming members of the Group , sector stakeholders and credit unions by the Group’s Vice-Chair and long-timer advocate of credit unions, Yvonne Fovargue MP.
The reception was sponsored by Citi and welcome d the 2017 class of the CU Futures programme which Citi supports and is a development programme for future leaders of the credit union movement. Rachael Barber, Head of Community Development for Citi, welcomed delegates and expressed her particular pleasure in seeing the success of the CU Futures scheme.
The reception also heard from Mike Mercer, President & CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (USA), with which ABCUL has entered into a learning partnership involving the twinning credit unions in the UK and Georgia for mutual learning. Mike treated the meeting to a brief history of credit union development in the USA – where credit unions have over 100 million members and $1.3 trillion in assets – and highlighted the huge direct benefits credit union members enjoy in Georgia alone with credit union members receiving benefit of more than £200 million in lower interest rates and fees and higher returns on savings. His concluding message was one of hope for the huge potential of credit unions in the UK, US and around the world as they help their members afford their lives but warned that it is incumbent upon credit unions themselves to preserve and nurture the credit union difference.
Finally, the Minister for Pensions & Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman MP, was able to briefly leave the 6 hour Universal Credit debate taking place in the Chamber in order to welcome credit unions to Parliament and to pay tribute to their invaluable work in extending financial inclusion. He spoke about his own involvement with credit unions in the North East, establishing the Tynedale Community Bank based in Prince Bishops Credit Union and, latterly, Northumberland Community Bank. And he pledged the Government’s commitment for continuing to support the role of credit unions.