Most credit unions are fortunate to receive valuable support from local politicians, including MPs, Members of the Scottish Parliament, and Welsh Assembly. There is widespread recognition of the benefits credit unions can bring to individuals and communities. Click the date of each entry to read the parliamentary debate.
Credit Unions Supporting Families Discussed in the Senedd
21 June 2023: Conservative MP Joel James asked a thought-provoking question in the Senedd, seeking to explore how credit unions in Wales are supporting families. Labour MP Jane Hutt highlighted the Senedd’s close working partnership with credit unions to provide ethical loans and savings, delivered through 13 projects. Jane Hutt MP urged the Conservative Minister and any other Members to visit credit unions in Wales to see how credit unions are helping families tackle the rising cost of living. Jane Hutt MP mentioned that the loan expansion scheme has provided 10 credit unions with a total of £1.2 million which helps people with poor credit history to access affordable credit. Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of credit unions as more than 35 per cent of credit union borrowers are lone parents with dependent children so the trustworthy and ethical services of credit unions are invaluable. The Labour MP expressed pride in Cardiff and Vale Credit Union - of which she is a member - and congratulated them for serving the community, especially at Christmas time.
Credit Unions in Wales Recognised for Supporting the Community
20 June 2023: In a Westminster Hall discussion about local authority support with co-operatives and alternative businesses, the role of credit unions in the community was mentioned. Beth Winter MP demonstrated the effective partnerships between co-operatives and local authorities in relation to Smart Money Cymru Community Bank. The MP for Cynon Valley acknowledged the strong support co-operatives receive from the Welsh Government and local councils. Beth Winter MP stated that the co-operation between these various bodies have supported Smart Money Cymru Community Bank to enable local people to access credit.
Griffith Highlights Government Support of Credit Unions Through Legislative Reform
25th May 2023: Jonathan Reynolds MP asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury – Andrew Griffith- how many officials in his department work on policies relating to mutual societies. In his response, Griffith highlighted the importance of the mutuals sector and used the opportunity to reiterate the Government’s support for credit unions through legislative change.
Griffith stated that amending legislation through the Financial Services and Markets Bill -allowing credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services- will ensure the legislative framework is a modern and supportive business environment.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark Praises Credit Unions in Second Reading of Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill
24 March 2023: In the second reading of the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill, Lord Kennedy of Southwark showed himself as a strong supporter of the British credit union movement. Lord Kennedy expressed his passion for the Bill which looks to reform and develop the sector’s legislative framework and to protect the right of mutual organisations to opt into a restriction on the use of assets.
Lord Kennedy shared with the House of Lords his pride in being a non-executive director of London Mutual Credit Union which is one of the largest credit unions in London. The Bill also gained support from Baroness Penn who said the merits of the Bill are “clear and roundly endorsed by the sector itself”. Baroness Penn also noted the Government’s commitment to the mutual sector is shown through the Financial Services and Markets Bill.
Credit Unions Feature in Parliament Debate on High Street Bank Closure
28 February 2023: Credit unions have featured in a House of Commons debate on the significant rate of high street bank closures in the UK.
Jim Shannon raised that credit unions are increasing in prominence within his constituency and asked whether credit unions in other areas have had the opportunity to fill the gap left by high street bank closures. It was agreed that credit unions can help in filling some of the gap left by closure of local bank branches.
Andrew Griffith MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, noted the Government supports the credit union sector to widen the range of services they offer. Griffith stated that the Government will do whatever it can to support the credit union model and ensure that regulation of the sector is appropriate and proportionate to ensure the growth of credit unions.
Minister Expresses Government Support for Credit Union Growth and Legislative Reform
24 February 2023: Legislative reform for the credit union sector has been highlighted during a reading of the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill in the House of Commons. Though the contents of this Bill does not apply to credit unions, the action being taken to support credit unions was raised whilst discussing the Government’s support for the co-operative and mutuals sector.
Andrew Griffith MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, shared his support for the credit union sector, stating to the House: “There are exactly 650 constituencies; would it not be wonderful if every one of them had a thriving credit union? That is a vision for us to hold in mind.”
Griffith reminded the House that they are taking action to support credit unions to expand the range of products and services they can offer through the Financial Services and Markets Bill. Griffith noted the upcoming amendments to the Credit Unions Act 1979 will allow credit unions to undertake insurance distribution, and offer both hire purchase agreements and conditional sale agreements to their members. It was noted that these changes will allow credit unions to increase their utility to their members and allow the sector to increase in scale.
The Minister noted that this reform will also give the Government a new power to permit credit unions to offer new types of products in future through secondary legislation. Griffith was clear to state that the Government is open to using this new power if the called for by the credit union sector.
Credit Unions Mentioned in Reference to the Help to Save Scheme
19th December 2022: A Treasury written question asked what assessment the Government had made to understand the potential impact of expanding the Help to Save scheme to all Universal Credit claimants and broadening points of access to include credit unions. Lord Harlech responded by explaining the Help to Save scheme aims to support individuals to start a regular savings habit. Lord Harlech explained the scheme’s eligibility criteria target working individuals in low-income households who may be able to save a small monthly sum and the Government has no plans to allow credit unions to offer Help to Save.
The Financial Services and Markets Bill Reporting Requirements Clause
7th December 2022: MPs discuss the proposed addition of a clause to the Financial Services and Markets Bill which would give the Treasury the power to require the FCA and the PRA to publish information at any time on any requested matters. Furthermore, the clause proposes that a data sharing agreement involving financial services stakeholders (which includes credit unions) is necessary when investigating fraud and financial crime. Credit unions were also mentioned in reference to an additional new clause proposing that the FCA must provide Parliament with an annual report of how they have considered the needs of mutual and co-operative financial services. Tulip Siddiq MP expressed concern over the FCA’s July annual report which failed to mention the needs of co-operatives, mutuals, building societies or credit unions.
Churches and Credit Unions
2nd December 2022: Jim Shannon MP asked Andrew Selous MP -representing the Church Commissioners- about the steps the Church is taking to support families. Within his response, Andrew Selous MP states that parishes offer counselling and social support for those in need which includes work with foodbanks, credit unions and Citizens Advice to reduce the pressures of financial difficulty on relationships.
Multiple MPs Mention the Benefits of Credit Unions when Discussing a Clause in the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill.
30th November 2022: MPs gathered to discuss the clause of the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill which determines the power to restrict use of assets of relevant mutual entities. The Bill seeks to introduce legislation that would allow mutual members to decide what should happen to assets in the unfortunate event of a solvent dissolution. The Bill aims to reduce incentives for demutualisation and Richard Graham MP seeks to ensure the Bill would allow one small co-op to merge with a couple of others to remain mutual if needed.
Richard Graham MP gave an example of when he helped merge a small credit union in Gloucester with others in Gloucestershire to create one single Gloucestershire Credit Union which served its members for a further decade. Peter Bottomley MP suggests that this Bill does not apply to credit unions directly, but he acknowledges that law reform should enable credit unions to be more freedom to provide services to consumers in a broader space. Bottomley also suggested law reform could enable people to donate money to credit unions like a charity.
Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury) James Murray MP pledged support for credit unions as those who serve individuals who are vulnerable to loan sharks and high-interest credit. Murray welcomes the freedoms the Financial Services and Markets Bill will bring for product expansion but believes the Government could go further to expand the potential of credit unions. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury- Andrew Griffith MP- once again voiced support for the credit union sector and for the Financial Services and Markets Bill.
MPs Suggest Government Adopts Affordability Models like those used by Credit Unions
23rd November 2022: During a Westminster Hall debate on social security support for children, MPs discussed the Government’s approach to debt repayment for those receiving universal credit (UC) and other benefits. Kirsty Blackman MP claimed the UK Government’s ability to take 25% off the standard UC allowance to reclaim debts is unfair and insufficient. Consequently, Kirsty Blackman MP suggested debt repayments are decided based on individual affordability, rather than an arbitrary percentage.
David Linden MP supported the suggestion for affordability calculations and mentioned that when he worked at Glasgow Credit Union calculating debt ratios was an important part of determining loan eligibility. Linden acknowledged that credit unions are required by the FCA to calculate debt ratios but suggests that the DWP should adopt this procedure of assessing an individual’s income and expenditure when making lending decisions.
Mayor of London Encourages Employers to Signpost Struggling Employees to Credit Unions
21st November 2022: When asked by a Conservative London Assembly Member about the role of the employer with employee debt assistance, Sadiq Khan highlighted credit unions as a service employers should signpost their employees towards.
The Mayor made clear his support for employers to alleviate the burden of debt on their employees and promote financial well-being, by paying a Living Wage. Furthermore, Khan highlights that in his 2019 initiative the 'Good Work Standard', he encouraged employers to offer debt, money and savings advice to workers; signposting to specialist organisations such as credit unions. The Mayor also suggests that employers should offer staff benefits such as discounts at local retailers or interest-free loans for housing and travel costs.
MPs Discuss and Agree to the Credit Union Focused Portion of the Financial Services and Markets Bill
1st November 2022:The Economic Secretary to the Treasury -Andrew Griffith MP- voiced support for the mutual sector and the benefits that the Financial Services and Markets Bill will grant credit unions. Griffith recapped the function of the credit union-focused clause (schedule 14) which will allow credit unions to offer more products and services such as hire purchase and conditional sale agreements and insurance distribution services. Griffith referenced ABCUL’s 2019 consultation of our members as a driver for understanding which new products and services credit unions wished to offer. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury reiterated that credit unions will require permission from the PRA or FCA to offer these products and services.
Andrew Griffith MP explained that legislation will grant the Treasury the power to add further products or services to the new object via a statutory instrument. The schedule also caps the interest that a credit union can charge on hire purchase and conditional sale agreements at 3% per month, in-line with credit union loans. The Government has permission to amend the cap in the future via secondary legislation, as is the case with other products and services. The Bill also enables credit unions to loan to other credit unions to support the growth and diversification of the sector. The Bill introduces a requirement for credit unions to submit annual returns to the FCA, and to be subject to the ‘year of account’ provisions in the 2014 Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act. Griffith recommended that the proposed sections stand part of the Bill.
Tulip Siddiq MP (Shadow Treasury Minister) and Martin Docherty-Hughes MP expressed support for the provisions, but believe the Bill fails to address the wider outdated regulatory regime and the insufficient infrastructure credit unions operate within. In response, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury declared that the Government are “on the side of credit unions” and intend to help the sector expand its opportunities and “flourish”. Griffith indicated the Bill is part of a wider set of measures, and he supports the Government objectives to prevent demutualisation. He also supports a review of the Co-operative and Community benefit Societies Act 2014 and the Friendly Societies Act 1992. Griffith concluded the discussion by asserting there is a “very good case for looking at modernising the legislation in this sector” and the Committee then voted for the legislation clause concerning credit union activity to stand as part of the Bill.
Cross-Party Praise for Credit Unions in Second Reading of the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill
28th October 2022: The Second Reading of the Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill has seen praise from Labour and Conservative MPs for the work of the mutual sector. Using ‘mutuals’ as an umbrella term which includes credit unions, Peter Gibson MP expressed support for the Bill’s principles. The Conservative MP for Darlington highlighted the role of mutuals in driving community-led economic development and as a potential tool to promote the success of levelling up.
Gibson praised Darlington Credit Union’s role in supporting the community by offering affordable loans which help people avoid loan sharks. The MP also commended Darlington Building Society for the support it gave the credit union during the pandemic, by providing financial support and voluntary guidance.
Many MPs referenced the history of the UK co-operative movement having originated in Rochdale in the nineteenth century. Chris Clarkson, Conservative MP for Heywood and Middleton, highlighted the success of Salford’s co-operative City Council for involving citizens in decision-making and creating credit unions.
ABCUL CEO Robert Kelly Gives Evidence in Parliament on the Financial Services and Markets Bill
19th October 2022: ABCUL CEO Robert Kelly and the Building Societies Association chief executive Robin Fieth were invited to answer questions and give evidence on the Financial Services and Markets Bill earlier this week.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury asked if the Bill appropriately meets the objectives of mutual building societies and credit unions, and if co-operatives and credit unions have the necessary expertise and regulatory rulebooks to handle selling a broader range of products. Kelly was clear to welcome the legislation under a proportionate approach. He encouraged the opportunity to benefit current members and open access to wider market spaces with expanded products and services the legislation includes. Kelly emphasised that the Bill’s implications have been discussed with stakeholders and member credit unions, so when passed, firms will be ready to enact the reforms.
The Shadow Financial Secretary asked why, compared to the US or the rest of Europe, the UK lacks mutually and co-operatively owned regional banks. Fieth stated a difference in tradition and that government funding to aid mutual startups could impact positive change. Responding to the same question, Kelly highlighted space for innovation and competition in SME lending and transactional activity whereby credit unions could fill this gap following wider legislative permissions. Kelly acknowledged that some credit unions already do corporate and SME lending, but the sector wishes to operate further in this space.
Peter Grant -SNP Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury- asked about the role of credit unions in promoting financial inclusion. Kelly highlighted the vital work of credit unions during the cost of living crisis, citing Bradford District Credit Union’s partnership with local authority as an example. Furthermore, Kelly stressed the role credit unions have in serving communities, which will be strengthened with the Bill’s passage. Widening the products and services credit unions can offer will attract individuals from a larger economic demographic.
Grant asked how the Bill will improve competition and Kelly highlighted car finance opportunities and hire-purchase arrangements as well as involvement in general insurance mediation. A wider product and service range and a view to improve technology will signify credit unions as a more mainstream service and thus attract more individuals. Furthermore, Kelly encourages innovation surrounding credit union service organisations (CUSOs) in GB to strive for the successes seen in North America.
When asked about the relationship between regulators and credit unions, Kelly referenced ongoing consultation with the PRA on future supervision and the regulatory environment, and the proportionate implementation the FCA’s Consumer Duty principles.
Newly appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury mentions Government support for credit unions
26th September 2022: Andrew Griffith MP, who is now responsible for financial services as The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, highlighted the prioritisation of the Financial Services and Markets Bill as Government support for the work of credit unions and their future growth. Rachael Maskell MP (Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) asked Griffith if the potential contribution of cooperatives and mutuals have been considered in the country’s industrial plans.
In response, Griffith stated that the Government has improved the business environment of credit unions by raising the interest rate cap from two to three percent in 2014. Griffith credited this reform for enabling credit unions to access higher-risk markets and to offer an alternative to high-cost lenders. Additionally, Griffith praised the prize-linked savings scheme offered through credit unions as increasing individuals’ financial resilience and raising the profile of credit union’s work. Griffith also stated credit unions have benefitted from dormant asset funding via Fair4All Finance with £5m for the COVID-19 resilience fund.
MPs Discuss the Financial Services and Markets Bill in Parliament
7th September 2022: The Financial Services and Markets Bill was read for the second time. The Bill includes draft legislation to reform the 1979 Credit Unions Act and allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services.
Richard Fuller MP, the newly appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury, highlighted the role of credit unions in offering affordable credit during the cost of living crisis and urges the speedy progression of the proposed legislation. Furthermore, Damian Hinds MP wishes to see the British credit union sector develop similarly to those in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Andrea Leadsom MP praised credit unions for the promotion of financial education but urges the Bill to go further on this objective.
Opposition MPs supported the Bill’s expansion of services credit unions can offer but called for the Bill to go further. Seema Malhotra MP expressed frustration at the Bill’s lack of ambition and its limited promotion of financial inclusion. Furthermore, Tulip Siddiq MP criticised the “outdated regulatory regime” under which credit unions operate.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury discusses efforts to support growth of the credit union sector
28th June 2022: Credit unions have featured in a debate in Parliament, as Simon Fell MP – a former chair of a credit union – asked what steps the Treasury are taking to support the credit union sector and to remove barriers to credit union growth, including the limit on credit union common bond size. Furthermore, Fell asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury for his plans to address issues such as the common bond cap in the upcoming reform of the Credit Unions Act 1979, to encourage people to stay away from doorsteps lenders and loan sharks.
John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, responded to this question noting the Government’s support and recognition for credit unions’ contribution to the financial services sector and their communities.
John Glen commented the following on the upcoming reform of the Credit Union Act: “We will be amending the Credit Union Act 1979 shortly, which will allow credit unions to offer more services such as hire purchase, conditional sale agreements and so on. With respect to the common bond—that being the link for all credit union members—we will need to see evidence that it supports the needs of the sector, but I have been working closely with the Association of British Credit Unions Limited, the trade body for 70% of credit unions, on its “Vision 2025” document. I visited its conference recently, and we will bring measures forward shortly in the Financial Services and Markets Bill.”
HM Treasury addresses the credit union sector to answer questions on the contribution of, support for and regulatory protection of mutuals and co-operatives.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, has put a number of questions to the Treasury regarding co-operatives and mutuals. Maskell asked the Chancellor of Exchequer for: an assessment of the economic contribution of the co-operative and mutual sector, and the steps being taken to support growth of the sector.
22 September 2021: John Glen, MP and Economic Secretary to the Treasury has addressed all these questions, highlighting steps to support the credit union sector, with the following response:
“In my role as Economic Secretary, I have been a champion of the mutuals sector. It is clear to me that mutuals bring something different to other forms of running a business, with their clear focus on delivering the services their members and communities need.
.... following the interest rate cap rise from 2% to 3% in 2014, credit unions have been able to expand into higher-risk markets and provide an important alternative to high-cost lenders. The prize-linked savings scheme, which was offered through credit unions, has also helped increase individuals’ financial resilience and raise awareness of credit unions. Building societies and credit unions have also played a key role in supporting consumers through the COVID-19 pandemic by keeping their branches open, which I thanked them for in a letter in April 2020.
Mutuals have benefitted from financial support provided by the Government to businesses during the pandemic, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Mutuals also benefitted from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which provided significant flexibility for mutuals in holding their annual general meetings, as well as improved the insolvency regime for co-operatives. Credit unions have also benefited from the distribution of dormant asset funding by Fair4All Finance, including their £5m COVID resilience fund.
As we build back better from the pandemic, the Government is looking to support the growth of the mutuals sector. The Chancellor announced at Budget 2020 that the Government intends to bring forward changes to the Credit Unions Act to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. Officials have been engaging with credit unions to ensure changes meet the needs of members and credit unions. This measure will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.”
Issue of supporting credit unions during the pandemic features in debate on working people’s finances.
21 September 2021: In a UK Parliament debate, titled ‘Working People’s Finances: Government Policy’, Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, has highlighted credit unions as affordable credit providers and calls for further support for the sector.
The debate on the financial health and situation of working people discussed the reality of working with a low income, including on the reliance of low income people on credit to cover basic needs and a high proportion of people behind on credit payments.
In response, Sobel remarked that pay day lenders are charging a very high level of interest and highlighted an appreciation of credit unions as low-cost credit providers. Further, Sobel raised the notion that credit unions should be supported further by the Government to overcome the challenges presented by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Steve Reed MP asks HM Treasury on the level of local authority support for credit unions.
Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an assessment for the levels of local authority support for credit unions.
10 September 2021: John Glen, MP for Salisbury and Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, made the following response:
“The Government recognises the vital role of credit unions in the financial wellbeing of their communities, providing an ethical home for their members’ savings and affordable loans to those who may otherwise have to resort to high-cost lenders.
Local authorities have significant freedoms to choose what investments they make and how to finance them. The Government funded £617m for the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, as well as further funding for the Small Business Grant Fund. Both funds closed in August 2020. The Government has also provided £2 billion of discretionary grant funding for local authorities in England through the Additional Restrictions Grant, to support businesses in the local area, which credit unions may have benefited from. Local authorities determine how much funding to provide to businesses and exactly which businesses to target.
Separately, the Government has provided significant support for credit unions. In total, £96 million of dormant asset funding has been released to Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion. Fair4All Finance has so far provided over £15m in financial support to the community finance sector, including credit unions, as part of their COVID-19 response. This includes £12m of equity investments in community finance providers and £3.6m in COVID-19 grants, including funding from their £5m COVID resilience fund. It also includes an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit, and which I expect to be of benefit to credit unions.”
Credit Unions highlighted by MPs as affordable credit providers in debate on household debt.
8 July 2021: Credit unions have featured in a House of Commons debate as a solution to tackling the pandemics impact on household debt.
The debate discussed the growing debt problem for many vulnerable individuals during the pandemic and covered how measures need to be taken to ensure affordable credit is widely available and accessible. Members of Parliament argued that credit unions can help achieve this goal, as providers of affordable and ethical finance.
Stella Creasey, MP for Walthamstow, called for the credit union sector to be discussed in central and local government, and subsequently stated that “social finance initiatives are critical to helping people out of this crisis”.
Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, heavily promoted credit unions and their social value, stating: “I declare an interest as the former chair of the Barrow and District Credit Union, but I think there is a role that such organisations can and should play to help individuals and families as we emerge from this crisis. I hope that the Government will consider supporting them in order to support our communities more. They are well connected to debt advice charities, they work very closely with the local third sector and, perhaps most important in this regard, they help to steer people away from short-term lenders and loan sharks. In many ways, they are some of the very best parts of our civil society and some of the least known."
Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, further promoted credit unions and commented on the untapped potential that the sector offers to individuals: “I am also a strong supporter and indeed a member of a credit union, the Chalkhill Blue, in my constituency. More people should use them. For those who are in debt, amazing help is available if only people know it is there and choose to take it up.”
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, brought up the legislative reform due for credit unions, that will enable the sector to provide a broader range of financial products, highlighting this as part of the Government’s efforts to improve access to affordable credit. Glen mentioned that he has been working closely with ABCUL in developing the reform.
Gareth Thomas MP highlights the importance of mutuals for creating competition within the financial services market.
12 May 2021: In a parliamentary debate on HM Government’s plans to support jobs and work in the recovery from the pandemic, Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, raised the importance of financial mutuals, including credit unions, for their contribution to affordable financial services.
Thomas praised mutuals for offering financial products that are affordable and good value for money, stating that these products improve many people’s quality of life. Further, Thomas highlighted the importance financial mutuals have in incentivising affordable savings across the financial market, by creating a diverse financial market and posing competition for other financial businesses like banks when it comes to the price for consumers of financial products.
Thomas went on to argue for the creation of a regulatory environment that supports smaller mutuals to be able to raise more capital and questioned why there has been a wait for the Government to action deregulation of the credit union sector.
The Treasury Committee discusses challenges faced by UK financial mutuals and co-operatives in raising capital.
12 May 2021: HM Treasury conducts regular inquiries with the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, in order to monitor the work of the FCA closely. During a meeting between the Treasury Committee and the FCA on the 12th May, the challenges faced by financial mutuals in the UK were discussed.
The discussion on mutuals was initiated by Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, who asked why mutuals are not as successful in the UK than in other large economies. In response to this question, Charles Randell CBE, Chair of the FCA, highlighted the widespread difficulty there is for mutuals to raise capital to a level that would enable them to expand or support their technology systems when needed.
Randell noted that larger financial businesses such as banks have been able to invest significantly in the migration to digital services, whereas mutuals are struggling to meet the cost of moving to a digital offering as the market currently demands. It was highlighted that this issue has been faced particularly by credit unions. Randell further raised the difficulty that smaller credit unions face with raising enough capital to cover the cost of regulatory compliance.
Chris Stephens MP Asks HM Treasury about assets, capital requirements and support for the credit union sector during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, asks the Chancellor of the Exchequer a series of questions on the credit union sector. Chris’s questions were as follows:
First, Chris Stephens asked for an assessment of the effect of discontinuities in credit union capital requirements on credit unions' capacity to grow assets beyond £10 million.
Second, Chris Stephens asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with credit unions on support during the covid-19 outbreak.
Third, Chris Stephens asked for the representations received by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on changing credit union capital requirements.
27 April 2021: To answer all these questions, John Glen MP responded that:
“HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector. I have also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.
Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May 2020, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This included an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit. I am also aware that credit unions have had access to wider COVID-19 support schemes, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and grant funding from local authorities.
Capital requirements for credit unions are a matter for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In March 2020, the PRA concluded its consultation into simplifying the capital regime for credit unions. This reduced complexity by removing the link between a credit union’s activities and membership with capital requirements, removed the old 2% capital buffer, and introduced a graduated rate approach to capital requirements. These proposals were broadly supported by the credit union sector.”
Lord Kennedy of Southwark asks HM Government for an Assessment of the Credit Union Sector and the Plan for Legislative Reform
Lord Kennedy of Southwark has asked HM Government for their assessment of the UK credit union sector and for what plans they have to reform the law in respect of credit unions in the UK.
27 April 2021: Lord Agnew of Oulton answered on behalf of HM Treasury with the following:
“The Government recognises the vital role of credit unions in the financial wellbeing of their communities, providing an ethical home for their members’ savings, and affordable loans to those who may otherwise have to resort to high-cost lenders.
That is why at Autumn Budget 2018, the Chancellor announced a pilot of a new prize-linked savings scheme offered through credit unions. This operated with 15 credit unions and has helped support the sector through increased membership, awareness and deposits. The Chancellor also announced a new £2 million challenge fund to promote innovative solutions from the UK’s Fintech sector to address challenges faced by social and community lenders, including credit unions. The winners of the challenge, which included Capital Credit Union and Serve and Protect Credit Union, were announced at Budget 2020.
The Government has also regularly engaged with the credit union sector, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chancellor announced at Budget 2020 that the Government intends to bring forward changes to the Credit Unions Act to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. This will allow credit unions to continue to grow sustainably for the future and support them in the vital role they play in financial inclusion. The Economic Secretary recently spoke at the Association of British Credit Unions Limited and National Credit Union Forum annual conferences to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to legislative change and ongoing support for the sector.
The Government is engaging with the credit union sector and carefully assessing options before bringing forward legislation to ensure that we are delivering reforms which meet members’ needs and support the development of the credit union sector.”
Seema Malhotra MP highlights partnerships of credit unions as a method of tackling financial exclusion.
19 April 2021: Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston, argued that there is a need to protect people from financial exclusion and to assist families in financial difficulty. Seema highlighted Sadiq Khan’s partnerships with credit unions as a model way of tackling financial exclusion and promoting economic fairness.
Gareth Thomas MP asks the treasury for an assessment of the proposed reform to allow credit unions to provide insurance and credit card services
Gareth Thomas asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer “what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to allow credit unions to offer (a) insurance services and (b) credit card services”.
18 January 2021: John Glen MP responded on behalf of the Treasury, stating:
“The Government recognises the vital role credit unions play in the financial wellbeing of their communities, providing an ethical home for their members’ savings, and affordable loans to those who may otherwise have to resort to high-cost lenders.
The Chancellor announced at Budget 2020 that the Government intends to bring forward changes to the Credit Unions Act to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. The Government is engaging with sector representatives and carefully assessing options before bringing forward legislation to ensure that we are delivering reforms which meet members’ needs and support the development of the credit union sector.”
Lord Kennedy of Southwark asks for the Government’s assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the credit union sector
Lord Kennedy of Southwark has asked Her Majesty's Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the credit union sector in the UK.”
21 December 2020: Lord Agnew of Oulton responded to this question on behalf of the Treasury, stating:
“The Government recognises the vital role of credit unions in the financial wellbeing of their communities, providing an ethical home for their members’ savings, and affordable loans to those who may otherwise have to resort to high-cost lenders. In April 2020, the Economic Secretary wrote to credit union trade bodies to thank frontline staff for their efforts to continue to provide essential services to their members.
HM Treasury officials have regularly engaged with the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Economic Secretary has also engaged with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people through this period.
Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 20 May, the Government announced that additional funding through the dormant assets scheme would be released immediately to Fair4All Finance. This includes an expanded Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, which aims to improve the access and availability of affordable credit, and which I expect to be of benefit to credit unions.”
Gareth Thomas MP asked several Secretaries of State if they plan to require their departments and agencies to provide a payroll deduction service, to allow staff to save more easily with a credit union
30 November - 4 December 2020: There have been a number of responses to the question of requiring government agencies whether they will provide payroll deduction, from representatives of various government departments. Though there have been a range of replies, none of the respondents have stated that their departments have made plans to implement a payroll deduction scheme for their staff, where there is not one already in place.
Two departments have noted that they already utilise a payroll deduction service. The response from the DWP was that it already provides a payroll saving scheme to employees. The Ministry of Defence also provides a payroll deduction scheme, to both its civilian employees and the Armed Forces. Further, both departments have actively formed partnerships with credit unions and promote using their services.
Most representatives have responded that there is no current intention on introducing a payroll deduction service for their department’s staff, including those from: the Home Office; the Department for Transport; the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government; the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; the Department for International Trade; the Attorney General’s Office; the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury.
Other representatives expressed an openness to a potential payroll deduction scheme. The response from the Department of Health and Social Care, alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs, was that, whilst there is no current plan to implement a payroll deduction service, there is the potential to implement such a scheme in future after reviewing their employee benefits. The respondent from the Department of Education stated that it would be open to introducing such a scheme, given there was enough demand from staff.
Both the Scottish Office and Welsh Office have responded by stating that it is not within their power to implement a payroll deduction service, as other government bodies assign their payroll policy.
Stella Creasy MP refers to credit unions as a solution for problem debt, in the parliamentary debate over the debt respite scheme.
1 December 2020: In a parliamentary debate over the Financial Services Bill, Stella Creasy MP called for amendments regarding the debt respite scheme, with the aim of making the scheme’s policies work in practice for people in problem debt. Throughout the debate, Creasy highlighted the extent of the personal debt problem in the UK and that this issue has proliferated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creasy stressed that the debt crisis has been fuelled by the widespread availability of high-interest credit and called for more affordable credit options to be made available to those need it. She noted that the expansion of the credit union movement would help in mitigating the debt crisis, by providing people with the reasonable lending options that could prevent them from entering problematic debt.
Gareth Thomas MP asked the following of the Chancellor of the Exchequer:
- When he plans to allow credit unions to provide loans to members to buy cars, to offer insurance products to members and to be able to offer credit card services.
- Whether Fair4All will support the expansion of credit unions under the Dormant Asset programme.
- What plans he has to require large employers to offer payroll deduction to allow employees to join and save with a credit union, and
- What plans he has to allow credit unions to offer (a) Premium Bonds and (b) other National Savings & Investments products; and if he will make a statement.
17 November 2020: John Glen MP responded on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer:
“The Government recognises the vital role credit unions play in the financial wellbeing of their communities, providing an ethical home for their members’ savings, and affordable loans to those who may otherwise have to resort to high-cost lenders.
The Chancellor announced at Budget earlier this year that the Government intends to bring forward changes to the Credit Unions Act to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. This will be done at a future legislative opportunity. The Government is carefully considering options before bringing forward legislation to ensure that we are delivering reforms which meet members’ needs and support the development of the credit union sector.”
“Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England through the coronavirus pandemic. Fair4All Finance has also launched its Affordable Credit Scale-up Programme, designed to provide tailored support to sustainably scale affordable credit.”
“The Government has no plans to require large employers to offer payroll deductions to allow employees to join and save with a credit union.
In Budget 2018, the Government announced a prize-linked savings pilot called PrizeSaver. This is currently operating in 15 credit unions across the country, helping to support the sector through increased membership, awareness and deposits, as well as encouraging participants to build up savings to help them cope with financial shocks. The pilot is scheduled to end in March 2021. The Government has no plans to allow credit unions to offer Premium Bonds or other National Savings and Investments products.”
Credit unions feature heavily in second reading of co-operatives green share bill
11 September 2020: During the seconding reading of a private members' Bill put forward by Anna McMorrin MP to facilitate further investment into green co-operative projects a number of MPs highlighted the work of credit unions:
Paul Howell MP lauded the work of credit unions in bringing down the cost of credit particular in relation to rent to own and high cost hire purchase schemes. In speaking about his local credit union Mr Howell said "I strongly encourage people to use its services before buying on any high-interest hire purchase scheme, as that normally results in substantially higher costs being paid."
Mr Howell also highlighted the legislative reform ABCUL secured for credit unions in 2020 stating:
In the 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government would bring forward legislation to allow credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services. That will support credit unions to continue to grow sustainably in the longer term and to play a pivotal role in financial inclusion. In a speech to the Association of British Credit Unions in March this year, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury said:
“I am delighted to confirm that this week’s Budget included the announcement that the Government is to bring forward legislation to amend the Credit Unions Act. This will permit credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services than ever before…helping you better meet the needs of existing members.”
A number of other MPs spoke about credit unions in the bill such as:
Kevin Hollinrake MP who pointed out how mutual banks and co-operatives in the United States are around a thousand times larger and stated "We need to invest more in credit unions and co-operatives and make it easier for them to establish and grow in the UK."
Peter Gibson MP who joined Paul Howell in welcoming the legislative reform for credit unions and praised the "fantastic work of Darlington Credit Union".
Jo Gideon MP who also commented "I would like to see more credit unions, which would be great for areas such as mine".
Janet Daby MP asks how many credit unions are affiliated to faith groups
8 September 2020: John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury responded to this question stating:
"There are currently 429 active credit unions in the United Kingdom.
Neither HM Treasury, the Prudential Regulation Authority nor the Financial Conduct Authority collect information on the affiliation of credit unions to faith groups. It is therefore not possible to provide the number of credit unions affiliated to faith groups in the United Kingdom.
The Government is, however, aware of the strong links between certain faith communities and credit unions. I was pleased to take part in a roundtable recently hosted by one such credit union, the Pentecostal Credit Union, to discuss issues facing its members."
John Glen: 'Credit unions are working closely with Treasury and regulators to maintain branch access for essential services'
11 June 2020: Responding to a written question from Ronnie Cowan MP, asking about the provisions made for people who require access to offline or face-to-face banking during the Covid-19 outbreak the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP said that his department was working closely with credit unions, banks and building societies to ensure that the vast majority of branches remain open.
Chancellor of the Exchequer asked what discussions he has had with credit union sector since Covid-19 outbreak
28 April 2020: Gareth Thomas MP, having written to the Chancellor, received his response from the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. John Glen MP who stated:
"I am aware of the vital role that credit unions play in supporting the financial wellbeing of their communities as sources of affordable credit. On Tuesday 21 April I wrote to credit union trade bodies to thank frontline credit union staff for their efforts to continue to provide essential services to their members.
I am engaging with representatives from the credit union sector through the Consumer Finance Forum and Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, which are bringing financial services and consumer group representatives together to discuss how to best support people, including credit union members, through this period. HMT officials are also working closely with the Prudential Regulation Authority, Financial Conduct Authority and sector representatives to monitor the impact of the disruption caused by COVID-19 on credit unions and their members.
Fair4All Finance, the independent body set up by Government to distribute dormant assets funding to support financial inclusion, has set up a £5 million resilience fund to support credit unions and community development finance institutions in England."
18 March 2020: In the debate, Johann Lamont MSP asked whether the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Governments "had any discussions with the credit union movement about the role that it might be able to play in ensuring that people can access the emergency funding that they need?"
The Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP responded, "although I have not had direct conversations with credit unions, my officials will be engaging with them because they should be able to access funding for third sector resilience, or other funding measures that we have announced today, to ensure their cash flow to enable them to respond to the needs of the communities they serve.
Support for credit unions cited in Scottish Parliament Covid-19 communities debate
18 March 2020: In the debate, Johann Lamont MSP asked whether the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Governments "had any discussions with the credit union movement about the role that it might be able to play in ensuring that people can access the emergency funding that they need?"
The Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP responded, "although I have not had direct conversations with credit unions, my officials will be engaging with them because they should be able to access funding for third sector resilience, or other funding measures that we have announced today, to ensure their cash flow to enable them to respond to the needs of the communities they serve."
Lord Kennedy of Southwark asks what support government is providing to credit unions
20 February 2020: Lord Kennedy's written question was answered by Lord Agnew of Oulton who highlighted the following government initiatives:
- A £2 million affordable credit challenge fund, harnessing the UK’s FinTech sector to address challenges faced by community lenders, including credit unions. Six finalists were selected in October 2019, receiving initial funding of £150,000.
- A change in the regulatory boundary of credit broking to make it easier for registered social landlords such as housing associations to refer their tenants to social and community lenders.
- A prize-linked savings pilot scheme, to encourage the growth of the credit union sector, and encourage consumers to build up their personal savings. This pilot launched on 17 October, International Credit Union Day, in 15 credit unions across the country. Over 6,000 accounts had been opened by the end of January 2020.
- A feasibility study for a UK No-Interest Loans Scheme.
He also responded to a separate point about regulation, citing the recently closed PRA consultation on a more proportionate capital regime.
Seafarers UK study credit union recommendations cited in House of Lords
11 February 2020: During the second reading of the Fisheries Bill Lord Mountevans highlighted the recommendation made by a Seafarers UK study Fishing Without a Safety Net for a national fishermen's credit union to provide affordable credit for fishermen.
You can read the full report here
Stephanie Peacock MP asks how much the DWP pays credit unions to distribute benefits
4 February 2020(1)(2): In two written questions, Stephanie Peacock asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many benefit claimants receive their benefits from credit unions, and how much the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) pays credit unions to process these benefits.
Guy Opperman, Under-Secretary of State for DWP replied stating that DWP does not pay credit unions to distribute benefits and that it was unknown how many benefit claimants received benefits through credit unions.
Scottish Parliament motion celebrates credit union anniversary, and the work of the sector to disrupt high cost credit.
31 January 2020: A motion in the Scottish Parliament, lodged by Christine Grahame MSP, celebrates 30 of Capital Credit Union, in Edinburgh. It also celebrates the work of the sector in tackling high cost, and door step, lenders.
Scottish Parliament motion celebrates 13 years Hi Scot Credit Union
7 November 2019: The motion, lodged by Alasdair Allan MSP, notes that the credit union has now over 3000 members throughout the islands, and approved more than £9.5 million of loans to help residents.
Government responds to question on review of credit union regulation 21 November 2019: The Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Lords, Patrick Courtown responded to a question posed by Lord Kennedy of Southwark on whether Government has plans to review credit union regulations. Patrick Courtown responded to highlight the Governments support for credit unions by:
- Increasing the maximum interest a credit union can charge for loans from 2% to 3% per month.
- Increasing the geographical common bond size i.e. the population area a credit union can serve from 2 to 3 million people.
- A number of Announcements in the Autumn Budget including:
- A £2 million affordable credit challenge fund, which encourages the UK's FinTech sector to address challenges faced by social and community lenders, including credit unions.
- *A prize-linked savings pilot scheme, to encourage the growth of the credit union sector and encourage consumers to build up personal savings. This pilot launched on 17 October 2019, International Credit Union Day, in 13 credit unions around the country.
- A change in the regulatory boundary of credit broking to make it easier for housing associations to refer their tenants to community lenders.
He finished his response by highlighting the significant consultation put forward recently by the Prudential Regulation Authority to introduce a simpler, more proportionate capital requirement regime.
Gareth Thomas MP questions why credit union legislation did not feature in Queen's speech:
14 October 2019: Gareth Thomas, speaking after the Queen's address stated: "I share the disappointment of the co-op movement that there is no commitment in the Queen’s Speech to bring forward as a matter of urgency legislation to reform the rules on credit unions.
The Government know that there is a growing consensus within the credit union movement on what needs to happen to release credit unions from some of the red tape that holds back their expansion, yet there is no commitment to legislate on that. Some of the legislation that governs other forms of co-operatives dates from the Victorian era and needs to be modernised. Work by the Law Commission and a commitment to legislate for reform would have been timely."
Scottish Government to launch £10 million credit union investment fund
17 September 2019: Aileen Campbell, The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, announced Scottish Government's commitment to launch a £10 million credit union investment fund to help credit unions grow the number of people saving and borrowing in credit unions. This fund would be launched in Spring 2020.
Many members espoused the importance of credit unions as co-operative, not-for-profit, and ethical financial institutions which provide affordable credit and savings facilities to their members. Members expressed a common view that by supporting credit unions they were supporting financial inclusion, regular savings and financial resilience. The debate featured much discussion on how to grow and build on the successes of the credit union sector in Scotland
To read or listen to this substantial debate click the date above.
Secretary of State for International Development asked why employees cannot access payroll deduction
19 July 2019: Andrew Stephen MP replied to the question posed by Gareth Thomas MP, making the statement:
Debate on financial inclusion and access to cash features credit unions
21 May 2019: Seema Malhotra MP opened the debate, setting out the areas where progress is being made and where the opportunities should be seized. On the latter point, she highlighted credit unions and made a number of recommendations on how government could support the sector.
Seema suggested the following measures:
- A minister for credit unions
- A public right for credit union payroll savings
- A right to school savings clubs
- New legislation for credit unions to remove the obstacles preventing UK credit unions from gaining the market share of their international peers.
A number of other MPs, including Gareth Thomas, Bim Afolami, and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen spoke at length in support of credit unions.
Chris Stephens MP asks about ongoing capital discussions with the PRA
13 May 2019:Chris Stephens MP asked John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury about his discussions with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). John Glen responded:
"Capital requirements for credit unions are set by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), in line with their mandate to promote the safety and soundness of firms. The PRA is independent from government and is responsible for ensuring the credit union sector is effectively regulated and financially stable.
"I have regular meetings with the PRA to discuss a range of ongoing policy issues, including in relation to credit unions.The government remains committed to supporting credit unions, which provide vital services to financially under-served communities and contribute to the diversity of the UK’s financial services sector."
David Drew MP asks what plans government has to support the development and governance of credit unions
13 May 2019: John Glen MP responded on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer:
"The government remains committed to supporting credit unions, which provide vital services to financially under-served communities and contribute to the diversity of the UK’s financial services sector.
"At Autumn Budget 2018, the Chancellor announced a two-year pilot of a new prize-linked savings scheme offered through credit unions. This will support the credit union sector through increased membership, awareness and deposits, as well as encouraging participants to build up savings to help them cope with financial shocks.
"At Autumn Budget 2018 the Chancellor also announced a new £2 million challenge fund to promote innovative solutions from the UK’s Fintech sector to address challenges faced by social and community lenders, including credit unions.
"This Government believes improving governance in the sector is best led by the sector itself, and supports the work of industry bodies in this regard."
Scottish Cabinet Secretary notes support for changes to credit union legislation
27 March 2019: Aileen Campbell MSP was responding to a question from Linda Fabiani MSP, and noted that she would like to see the UK Government consider this.
Scottish Parliament Corporate Body outlines take up of credit union pay roll scheme
21 March 2019: In response to a question from Cross Party Group on Credit Unions Convenor Ruth Maguire, Sandra White gave an outline of how many staff use a credit union, and committed to consider offering partnerships to more credit unions.
Two motions in Scottish Parliament celebrate Kilwinning Academy pupils setting up their own credit union.
13 March 2019: Ruth Maguire MSP and Ross Greer MSP both lodged motions welcoming the new partnership with 1st Alliance Ayrshire Credit Union
Scottish Parliament motions welcomes Lloyds funding for Dalmuir Credit Union
25 February 2019: The motion, tabled by the SNP's Gil Paterson, noted the valuable service the credit union provides in his constituency, and welcomes the £20,000 from Lloyds Banking Group.
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury says Government must invest in credit unions
14 February 2019: In a discussion about Santander Closures and Local Communities. John Glen said "I am doing all I can to work towards a situation where the best credit unions can see a way to grown and to provide more. The money from dormant assets can be used to help them grow". Other MPs also backed credit unions in the debate:
- Catherine West said: "What are government doing proactively to support credit unions in areas where we know they can do so much good?"
- Jim Shannon said "it has been incredibly important to have the credit unions"
- Paul Sweeney highlighted the Community Investment Act in the US which obliges banks to "redistribute their profits into sponsoring co-operative banking services and mutuals, and to promote credit unions". He also stated that he supported similar legislation in the UK.
- David Linden stated that he wanted UK Government to provide practical support, "specifically for governance and succession planning issues that challenge them".
Scottish Government Minister highlights support for credit unions
7 February 2019: In a discussion on bank branch closures, the Minister for Public Finance outlined Government support for the sector.
Chair of All-Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions calls for amending Credit Unions Act
6 February 2019: In a Westminster Hall debate about the future of the UK as a financial services hub moved by Bim Afolami MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, he said:
"Will the minister agree to work with me on two aspects of credit unions? First, will he consider amending secondary legislation to broaden credit union lending powers, so that they are able to service more people from that vulnerable group? Secondly, will he work with the Bank of England to review capital requirements for credit unions, so that the sector can serve more people more effectively?"
The minister, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Robert Jenrick) said in response: "I am happy to write to [Bim Afolami] and any other honourable members who are interested about the measures that we have taken and are interested in taking to ensure that credit unions become more widely available, including, of course, by increasing their scope from 2 million to 3 million member and their geographical reach, which helps them to have a larger presence in big cities and different regions of the country."
Scottish Parliament debate the role of credit unions in Scotland's communities.
17 January 2019: In a Scottish Government debate, support from the sector came from all parties in the Parliament. Read our special round up of the debate here.
Scottish Government comment on credit union support in the Budget.
9 January 2019: Responding to a question from Linda Fabiani MSP, Scottish Government Minister Kate Forbes commented on how the Government might support credit unions moving forward.
Kevin Jones MP asks government to consider DWP working with local credit unions
8 January 2019: In a debate about Universal Credit Kevin Jones MP said: "May I ask the minister to give serious consideration to local working with credit unions?"
Cartyne Credit Union recognised in Westminster debate
20 December 2018: The work of the credit union in the community was recognised by it's MP, Paul Sweeney.
Gareth Thomas MP asks Government when they will allow credits to provide low-cost car loans
11 December 2018: Gareth Thomas MP asked "When will the Government bring forward proposals to allow well-funded credit unions to provide low-cost credit cards and low-cost car loans, and to invest in other social programmes such as energy co-operatives and housing schemes". John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, responded to say that Government had introduced a series of measures to assist credit unions to expand their role in delivering affordable credit and cited budget commitments to pilot both an interest free loans scheme and prize-linked savings scheme.
Stella Creasy MP would love to see more credit unions
8 December 2018: Stella Creasy gave her support to credit unions in debate around affordable credit for people on low incomes. Stella also said that it was a priority "to cap the cost of all forms of credit in this country to give an even playing field". Also commending credit unions in the debate were Faisal Rashid MP, Jim Shannon MP and Frank Field MP.
Lanarkshire Credit Union's project acknowledged in motion lodged by James Kelly MSP
19 November 2018: The motions wishes everyone the best for their hard work for the people of Rutherglen and Cambuslang.
Brian Whittle MSP, of Scottish Conservatives, calls for "more oxygen" for credit unions.
6 November 2018: The MSP spoke about a visit to his local credit union during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Parliament welcomes International Credit Union Day
17 October 2018: The motion, lodged by Ruth Maguire MSP and supported by a range of other MSPs, wishes all who work within thecredit union sector in Scotland, and across the world, continued success in changing the lives.
Credit Union success highlighted in Scottish Parliament social enterprise debate
11 September 2018: Castle Community Bank was highlighted by Gordon Lindhurst MSP for its work in communities in Edinburgh.
Scottish Government outline support for credit unions in Programme for Government
4 September 2018: The Programme notes the success of previous investment, commits to delivering a awareness campaign in November, and notes that the Government will continue to work with the sector.
Scottish Parliament congratulates 1st Alliance Ayrshire Credit Union on 200,000th loan
31 July 2018: The motion, lodged by 1st Alliance's local MSP Ruth Maguire, and welcomes the £15.5 million in lending the credit union has done since it was founded in 2004.
The Scottish Parliament welcomes ABCUL's Work Not Worry campaign.
31 July 2018: The motion, lodged by Ruth Maguire MSP (the convener of the Cross Party Group on Credit Unions) and supported by MSPs from a number of parties, reconises the proven benefits of working with a credit union, and applauds ABCUL for efforts to promote this.
Tom Arthur MSP highlights the successes of Pioneer Mutual Credit Union in the Scottish Parliament.
31 July 2018: The motion, lodged by the SNP's Tom Arthur, highlighted the £2.4 million of ledning the credit union did in 2016-17, and welcomes the credit union's responsible approach to borrowing. The motion was supported by a number of other Parliamentarians.
Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom MP highlights incredibly valuable work of credit unions
28 June 2018: Andrea Leadsom MP, speaking in a debate about Parliament's forthcoming business said, "I am a big fan of credit unions, [...] they do so much to help people learn to save as well as borrow. The work that they do is incredibly valuable. I join him in congratulating the co-operative movement on all its efforts and encourage him to seek a Back-Bench debate, so that he may share with over hon. Members their own experiences."
Lord Bates responds to question about credit union legislative reform
27 June 2018: Lord Bates responded to a question from Lord Kennedy of Southwark which asked "To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to review the legislation covering credit unions". In his response Lord Bates said, "Government's engagement with the credit union sector includes ongoing consideration of its legislative framework. [...] Government committed to actively consider legislative changes in [this] Parliament. At Autumn Budget 2017, Government committed to raising the geographical common bond limit for credit unions from 2 to 3 million. This change came into effect in April 2018."
Lord Bates added, "All changes to credit union legislation must be considered alongside the need to maintain an appropriate regulatory regime for credit unions. A loose legislative framework would likely require increased regulation which might be inappropriate for small, community based institutions."
ABCUL gives evidence on credit unions to Scottish Parliament's Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee
5 June 2018: Karen Hurst, ABCUL's Scotland Policy Officer, give evidence at a session of the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Jobs and Fair Work's bank branch closure inquiry. Evidence was also heard from Gordon Buchanan, of Castle Community Bank. The session discussed issued such as:
- The services credit unions can offer those communities impacted by bank closures.
- What steps can be taken to 'scale up' the credit union sector.
- How a relationship with the Post Office could help credit unions.
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury answers question on the promotion of credit unions
23 May 2018: David Crausby MP asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "what recent steps his Department has taken to improve and promote access to credit unions". John Glen responded highlighting the work that the government has done to improve access to credit unions including:
- Increasing funding for a scheme which promotes credit union membership in areas at risk of being targeted by loan sharks
- Increasing the credit union common bond limit -- the local area that a credit union can serve – from an area with two million to three million people living or working there.
- Raising the statutory cap on the total interest rate a credit union can charge on loans from 2% to 3% per month which allows credit unions to expand into new markets and compete more effectively with other lenders.
Baroness Wheatcroft states that there should be more credit unions
11 May 2018: In a debate about creditworthiness assessment Baroness Wheatcroft said, "One source of reasonable credit for people on very low incomes and who need it most is credit unions. We have often spoken in this House about the need for more credit unions. They do a good job, but there are nowhere near enough–there are 384 members of the credit unions association."
Lord Hain responded "My lords, the noble Baroness's point about credit unions is vital. On my way to London early on a Monday morning, I often see people near Neath station queuing outside their credit union. For them, it is a lifeline."
Lord Bates, Minister for State, Department for International Development, says he will 'take back' idea funding credit union promotion of out fines
11 May 2018: Lord Kennedy of Southwark suggested that the fines levied on financial institutions for misconduct could be used to support the credit union movement and advertise the alternatives available. Lord Bates responded, "I am very happy to take that back. It is an example of the innovative ideas that we can discuss as alternatives to the measures before us today in terms of legislation.As the noble Lord was speaking, I was thinking of the Libor fines. Those sums were significant – some £600 million or £700 million [...]. My point is that I think there are solutions which would better achieve the effect that [...] Lord Bird, is rightly trying to achieve.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury highlights credit union common bond change
18 April 2018: Susan Elan Jones MP recently wrote to the Exchequer asking, "what steps the Government is taking to promote community banking facilities?". The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, responded, "The Government supports credit unions, which provide vital banking services to financially under-served communities. To help expand credit unions' reach, at Autumn Budget 2017 the Government announced that where a credit union's membership conditions are based on a local area, a credit union will be able to increase the number of potential members it can have from 2 to 3 million. The legislation to make this change was laid in November 2017 and comes into force April 2018".
Lord Bird writes to Government to ask what plans they have to promote affordable and suitable financial services
16 April 2018: Lord Ashton of Hyde, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport cited credit unions in his response saying, "The Government also supports credit unions, which provide an affordable alternative to high-cost credit. In the Autumn Budget 2017, the government announced its intention to help the sector expand by increasing the number of potential members from two million to three million. In addition, from this year a greater proportion of funds recovered from illegal money lenders will be allocated to incentivise vulnerable people to join, save, and borrow with a credit union instead of turning to loan sharks".
Minister of State for International Development affirms support for credit unions
06 March 2018: Responding to Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Lord Bates, Minister of State for International Development, highlighted the support that credit unions have had from government in the last two years. Lord Bates said "The government is committed to supporting credit unions, which provide vital services to financially under-served communities and contribute to the diversity of the UK's financial services sector." Lord Bates gave the following examples:
- Increasing the potential common bond size from 2 million to 3 million
- Expanding a scheme which incentivises credit union membership in communities at risk of being targeted by loans sharks, using funds recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act from convicted loan sharks.
- Contributing £600,000 to the LifeSavers initiative which helps to run school savings clubs and educates young children in the benefits of savings.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, answers quetion on credit union legislation
05 March 2018: Gareth Thomas MP, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "make an assessment of the effectiveness of credit union legislation; and if he will make a statement". The Economic Secretary to the treasury responding stating "Government engages closely with representatives of the credit union sector to understand how credit unions may best be supported, including ongoing consideration of their legislative framework".
He added, "For example [...] At Autumn Budget 2017, Government committed to raising the geographical common bond limit for credit unions from 2 to 3 million. This change will come into effect from April 2018."
He also commented on striking the balance between credit unions legislative framework and regulatory regime stating, "A loose legislative framework would likely require increased regulation which might be inappropriate for small, community based institutions."
Under-Secretary of state for Work and Pensions commits to reviewing Credit Unions Act
3 February 2018: In responding to Gareth Thomas MP, who questioned whether credit unions have all the powers necessary to tackle indebtedness, Guy Opperman, Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said, "both I and my honourable friend the Member for Salisbury [Economic Secretary to the Treasury] are passionately committed to credit unions. We will review the nature of credit unions and how they are provided for statutorily under the Credit Union Act 1979."
Credit union school savings scheme discussed in debate about financial education
1 February 2018: Following Jack Dromey MP's proposal to amend the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill to add financial education to the primary school curriculum, Yvonne Fovargue MP commented on the success of work done by credit unions to encourage children to start an early habit of saving stating, "I would love to get the funding to go back now, to see how those "adults" are coping after having had that education at primary school level [...] I believe that work helped".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Guy Opperman commented that the LifeSavers programme delivered financial education in a very similar way to as Yvonne Forvargue described, "Her speech might be seen as a bid to continue the LifeSavers programme—it obviously has a life span—and then she would be able to bid for her community to be part of the programme in partnership with the Church of England and whichever credit union she wishes to support.". Yvonne Forvargue responded that she would pass the information on to her local credit union.
HMRC & HM Treasury reviewing potential to offer credit union services to staff
29 January 2018: In response to a written question from Gareth Thomas MP asking if there were any plans to offer payroll deduction services for HMRC and HMT staff Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General said, "both departments are currently reviewing their Wellbeing and Financial strategies, which will include exploring the feasibility and appropriateness of offering credit unions to their staff.
Co-op Party Chair says new financial guidance body should promote credit union services
22 January 2018: In a debate about the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, Gareth Thomas MP said, "would [Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions] be sympathetic to an amendment on Report from Co-op MPs urging the single financial guidance body actively to promote credit union services across the country?". Debbie Abrahams agreed to work with Gareth Thomas on the details of the amendment to understand what the Co-op party wants to achieve.
Later in the debate Guy Opperman said, "credit unions are a vital part of the financial makeup" and confirmed that credit unions will be covered by the new single financial guidance body just as they are by the Money Advice Service currently.
Credit Unions feature in bank closures response
15 January 2018: In responding to a question about how many high street bank branches have closed in the last twenty years from Chris Ruane MP, John Glen, the new Economic Secretary to the Treasury responded that whilst they did not collect data on bank closures "the impact on communities must be understood, considered and mitigated where possible".
The new Economic Secretary to the Treasury then highlighted the work of credit unions which continue to serve their local communities stating, "Government also recognises the important role credit unions play in delivering essential services to financially underserved communities. To help expand credit unions' reach, at Autumn Budget 2017 the Government announced that where a credit union's membership conditions are based on a local area, a credit union will be able to increase the number of potential members it can have from 2 to 3 million."
MSPs discuss credit unions role in jointly owned buildings
9 January 2018: During a debate on how the Scottish Government can help owners of tenenment properties better maintain them, Ben McPherson MSP noted a possible role for credit unions.
Lord Bates sets out Government support for credit unions
8 January 2018: The government is committed to supporting credit unions, which provide vital services to financially under-served communities and contribute to the diversity of the UK’s financial services sector. Over the last two financial years, the government has done this by:
Announcing at Autumn Budget 2017, that where a credit union’s membership conditions are based on locality, a credit union will be able to increase the number of potential members it can have to from 2 to 3 million. The legislation to make this change was laid in November 2017 and comes into force in April 2018.
Announcing at Autumn Statement 2016 that, from 2018, an existing scheme which incentivises credit union membership in communities at risk of being targeted by loan sharks, will be expanded. This uses funds recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act from convicted loan sharks.
Contributing £600,000 to an initiative developed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Young Enterprise, to start savings clubs in primary schools and educate young children in the benefits of saving. Lifesavers works with local credit unions to help run savings clubs with schoolchildren, and is currently being piloted in six primary schools.
Providing funding for the Credit Union Expansion Project, delivered by the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. In 2017, three credit unions with a total membership of 16,500 began using an online banking platform provided by this project."
First Minister sets out Scottish Government's support for credit unions
21 December 2017: Responding to a question from Pauline McNeil MSP about steps to tackle illegal money lending over the Christmas period, Nicola Sturgeon noted that 'We will carefully consider any proposals to highlight further the important role that credit unions play. They provide financial services to a range of customers and they are a very valuable option for many, including those facing financial exclusion. We are already implementing the credit union working group’s recommendations that were published last year. They include making available to credit unions £300,000 to develop junior savers’ schemes and working with the sector to design a national awareness-raising campaign that will be delivered during 2018. I hope that members right across the chamber will get behind that campaign.'
Mark Griffin MSP asks the Scottish Government whether the Scottish Government has considered partnerships with credit unions to assist people in receipt of benefits.
21 December 2017: The Minister's reply stated that 'The Scottish Government is fully committed to providing an alternative payment solution to those with no access to a bank account. Work is currently underway to explore what alternative payment options are available that will meet individuals’ needs.'
Credit unions feature in 'tackling financial exclusion' House of Lords debate
18 December 2017: Lord Empey, Ulster Unionist Party, cited their recommendation that Government should supply repayable long-term investment capital and said, "We are not asking people to provide revenue support for credit unions–quite the reverse–but we believe that credit unions should be able to offer a greater array of products to people. People's experience is that credit unions are responsible lenders."
Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Credit Unions raises the topic of financial inclusion
7 December 2017: Jeremy Quin, Conservative MP for Horsham, Chair of the APPG on credit unions, called for a debate on financial inclusion and the single financial guidance body in the House of Commons. The Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Guy Opperman said "Does he agree that we should laud the fact that credit unions now have 1.29 million members, that their members and loans have doubled since 2006 and their deposits and assets have trebled? With respect, he is following on from the great work of my hon. Friends the Members for Worcester (MR Walker) and for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy), who were outstanding chairs of the all-party group before him [Jeremy Quin]".
The debate which followed covered issues such as the poverty premium, high-cost credit and how education, information and guidance can raise levels of financial awareness and inclusion.
Ministry of Defence credit union membership triples in second year
6 December 2017: In responding to a question from Gareth Thomas MP's about promoting awareness and take-up of the Armed Forces Credit Union, Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Defence said, "Following the introduction of the provision, the three credit unions, PlaneSaver CU, Police CU (trading as Serve & Protect) and London Mutual CU, met their first year target of 1,000 new members. At the end of the second year, the credit unions have reported that the number of Service personnel taking up the offer has grown to over 3,000".
Tobias Ellwood MP also revealws that, "A number of new initiatives to advertise the availability of credit unions have been undertaken this year, including messages on payslips and having a credit union representative take an active role in the British Forces Broadcasting Service 'Money Week' initiative".
Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General cites support for credit union sector in providing accessible alternatives to high-cost credit
6 December 2017: In responding to Sir Michael Fallon who asked a question about what steps Government is taking to promote better access to affordable credit Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster stated, "The government is committed to facilitating sustainable financial services that give consumers greater choice is accessing credit. This includes support for the credit union sector". Mel Stride then cited that from 2018 "a greater proportion of funds recovered from illegal money lenders will be allocated, to incentivise vulnerable people to join, save and borrow with a credit union".
Economic Secretary to the Treasury answers Co-operative Party Chair, Gareth Thomas MP, on how Government plans to support access to credit unions
6 December 2017: Stephen Barclay MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, responded,"The government is committed to supporting access to credit unions, which provide vital services to financially underserved communities and contribute to the diversity of the UK’s financial services sector. The government has done this by:
Announcing at Autumn Budget 2017, that where a credit union’s membership conditions are based on locality, a credit union will be able to increase the number of potential members it can have from 2 to 3 million.
Contributing £600,000 to an initiative developed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Young Enterprise, to start savings clubs in primary schools and educate young children in the benefits of saving. Lifesavers works with local credit unions to help run savings clubs in schools.
Contracting the Association of British Credit Unions Limited to deliver the Credit Union Expansion Project, which aims to modernise and grow credit unions in a sustainable way, enabling them to offer additional financial services to their members.
Announcing at Autumn Statement 2016 that, from 2018, a scheme which incentivises credit union membership in communities at risk of being targeted by loan sharks, will be expanded. This uses funds recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act from convicted loan sharks."
Bishop of St Albans encourages Lords to see the work credit unions are doing in schools
13 November 2017: In a debate about household debt, the Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith highlighted Church support for credit unions including through the financial education and school banking programme Lifesavers which builds financial capability and encourages savings from an early age. The Bishop stated, "if noble Lords have not been into a school to see one of the credit unions working there, it is worth going just to see the work they do to help young people support themselves through being financially responsible and planning properly for the future".
Baroness Primarolo asks what plans Government has to expand the scope of products credit unions can provide to their members
7 November 2017: Lord Bates, Minister of State, Department for International Development, responded to this question that, "in response to the Government's 2014 Call for Evidence on the future of credit unions, the Government committed to consider potential legislative changes in the previous Parliament that would help the sector grow and thrive". However, the Minister caveated that "it is important to consider any changes carefully to avoid unintended consequences, such as bringing smaller credit unions into regulation that might not be proportionate". The minister then underlined Government support for the sector and was keen to explore opportunities for growing and collaborating with the sector.
Nicola Sturgeon notes that she is a "massive supporter" of credit unions.
2 November 2017: After being asked a question by Pauline McNeill MSP about how credit unions can assist those facing financial hardship following the interest rate rise, the Scottish First Minister noted: I agree with the thrust of Pauline McNeill’s question. I am a massive supporter of the credit union movement; it does fantastic work and this Government has supported it and will continue to do so. We will look at what more we can do for it.
Mark Lancaster, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, pleased with progress made between credit unions and the Armed Forces
1 November 2017: Gareth Thomas, Party Chair & Co-operative Party MP for Harrow West, asked the Minister to consider what the MOD could do to encourage awareness of the armed forces credit union among military personnel. Mark Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, added his support to this point, mentioning that the United States service credit unions were far more advanced than the newly established British equivalent. Mark Lancaster stated that this was a reasonable request and that he would look into the point and respond in writing. Mark Lancaster also said, "I am very pleased with the progress we have made with the credit unions, but there is always more we can do".
Daniel Johnson MSP and Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing, discuss what credit unions can do to help tenants
25 October 2017: Daniel Johnson MSP asked whether the Scottish Government had considered the role that credit unions might play in helping tenants meet the costs of building maintenance. The Minister noted that this was "a particularly good idea. I am more than willing to talk to credit unions about their providing help, if that is at all possible".
MP for Gloucester says jobcentres should be encouraged to have credit union literature
24 October 2017: Speaking in a debate about Universal Credit Roll-Out, Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester listed three recommendations the Government should make, including that jobcentres "should be encouraged to have credit union literature to help people avoid getting into loan sharks and debt problems".
New Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay MP underscores credit unions key role in offering responsible credit
06 October 2017: In responding to a written question submitted by Paul Masterton, MP for East Renfrewshire, about how the Government were supporting credit unions as alternatives to payday lenders, Stephen Barclay MP stated, "Credit unions play a key role in offering affordable, responsible credit to underserved communities". He also highlighted Government support for credit unions including:
- Increasing the proportion of funds recovered from illegal money lenders used to incentivise credit union membership
- Contributing £600,000 to an initiative to start savings clubs in schools whilst promoting awareness of credit unions to children and parents
- Increasing the maximum interest rate credit unions can charge allowing them to compete with more expensive short-term finance
- Initiating the Credit Union Expansion project to help the sector modernise and offer new services
Scottish Parliament motion recognises International Credit Union Day
21 September 2017: In a motion lodged by Ruth Maguire MSP, and supported by 33 other MSPs, the motion recognises the continued strength of the sector in Scotland, with particular reference to Ruth's own constituency of Cunninghame North, home of 1st Alliance Ayrshire Credit Union.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP says that social landlords should promote the credit union movement
20 July 2017: In speaking about the accountability of housing associations and registered social landlords, Jim Fitzpatrick, said that he hoped social landlords would promote the credit union movement before offering loans to tenants themselves.
Credit unions feature in Post Office debate
25 April 2017: In a debate about Post Office closures, the issue of credit union collaboration with the Post Office was raised by Stella Creasy MP. Margot James, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy responded that such collaboration was being looked at, and if she was re-elected would provide further details of the plans being considered.
Church Commissioner highlights Church of England promotion of credit unions
20 April 2017: Dame Caroline Spelman, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said "The Church has considerable experience of supporting people in financial difficulty and has for the last four years been actively promoting credit unions and financial education within its school and church networks".
Simon Kirby credit unions help ensure genuine alternative to illegal lenders
29 March 2017: In a debate about a proposed 'Breathing Space' scheme, legislation to stop interest and charges to indebted persons seeking regulated debt advice, Simon Kirby MP highlighted government support for the credit union sector.
Clare Haughey MSP lodges a motion recognising Lanarkshire Credit Union's Living Wage status
15 March 2017: The motion in the Scottish Parliament encourages other employers to follow the credit union's example.
Minister of State for Department of Work and Pensions lauds Government commitment to the credit union sector
1 March 2017: Speaking in a debate about poverty in Liverpool, Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Department of Work and Pensions, said, "I am proud of this Government’s commitment to the credit union sector, the action that has been taken on payday loans, the introduction of the help to save programme and that budgeting support is at the heart of universal credit."
Ruth Maguire MSP, Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Credit Unions in the Scottish Parliament, highlights the role of credit unions as social enterprises.
9 February 2017: Ruth Maguire highlights, in particular, the important role of her local credit union, 1st Alliance Ayrshire, in North Ayrshire's thriving social enterprise scene.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury highlights support for credit unions
8 February 2017: In a debate about unauthorised overdrafts, Simon Kirby MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury stated that the Government will continue its efforts to "encourage competition, to support credit unions and to improve financial education." Adding, that the "Government will, through that comprehensive approach, continue to take steps to make sure that British customers have quality choices, good information and strong protection".
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy outlines support for credit unions in debate about access to banking.
26 January 2017: The Minister advises that Scotland has a strong base of credit unions, which we should be looking to build on.
Neil Findley MSP congratulates West Lothian Credit Union on recent award from the Credit Union Foundation.
26 January 2017: The motion to the Scottish Parliament notes that the grant will enable the credit union to provide a better service and increase its outreach.
Alexander Stewart MSP congratulations Clammanshire Credit Union on their Super Savers Scheme in a motion in the Scottish Parliament.
26 January 2017: The motion also congratulates other credit unions setting up schools schemes.
Dean Lockhart MSP lodges a motion congratulating Stirling Credit Union on their award from the Credit Union Foundation/Lloyds Banking Group
23 January 2017: Dean Lockhart congratulated Stirling Credit Union, noting that the £11,400 would enable them to invest in IT equipment and get a reliable internet connection. He also notes the continued growth of the sector in Scotland.
Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner highlights credit union collaboration with Just Finance Foundation
19 January 2017: In responding to Andrew Rosindell's question about what actions the Church of England is undertaking to tackle indebtedness, Caroline Spelman responded, "The Just Finance Foundation works with credit unions, churches, employers, schools and other community organisations to help strengthen the financial resilience of communities through financial education and improved access to responsible credit and saving opportunities and free debt advice services".
Simon Kirby MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury sets out Government support for credit unions
11 January 2017: In response to a question from Sir David Crausby MP, which asked how the Government plans to improve and promote access to credit unions, Simon Kirby MP responded, "The Government's manifesto commits to support the credit union movement in making financial services accessible over the course of this Parliament. The Government has supported the sector in the following ways:
- Investing up to £38 million in an expansion project for credit unions, aimed at helping credit unions expand and grown sustainably.
- The Government announced at AS16 that a greater proportion of funds recovered from illegal money lenders will be allocated to incentivise vulnerable people to join, save and borrow with a credit union instead of turning to loan sharks.
- The Coalition Government also increased the maximum interest rate that credit unions can charge on loans from 2% to 3%. This has help credit unions become more stable.
The Government will continue to look at ways it can help support the sector."
Gareth Thomas MP asks government departments if they have credit union payroll deduction facilities for employees
9-24 January 2017: Gareth Thomas, Party Chair of the Co-operative party, has so far written to Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Department for International Development, Northern Ireland Office, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Home Office, Wales Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department of Health, Department for International Trade, Department for Exiting the European Union, Law Officers' Department, Department for Transport, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department of Work and Pensions, Government Equalities Office and the Department for Education, individually to ask whether or not each department provides credit union payroll deduction facilities for employees.
Whilst many of these departments did not currently offer the facility for employees to join a credit union through payroll deductions, a number were currently considering whether to enable payroll deduction as part of their staff benefits.
Richard Harrington, responding on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions which does offer this benefit to employees said, "On 6th of July 2016 DWP Launched a payroll savings scheme to allow staff to access financial services delivered by three partner credit unions [...] directly through payroll. This initiative formed part of DWP's "Working Well Together" wellbeing programme. Early indications are that the scheme has been very well received and so far over 2,100 DWP staff have signed up as credit union members through payroll."
227 MPs Vote for credit union amendment to Help to Save
12 December 2016: Gareth Thomas MP tabled an amendment to Savings (government contributions) Bill to allow credit unions to offer the Help to Save. A number of MPs spoke in favour of the amendment whilst 227 voted for it. Although the amendment was ultimately defeated by the Government 279 votes to 227 the debate highlighted the broad support for the sector. Speaking in support of the bill Stella Creasy MP said, "pragmatism is about offering people good options for managing what little money they have, and that is where the credit union movement comes into its own. When the Government want to encourage saving, it is absolutely vital that instead of excluding the credit union movement, they embrace it and the benefits that it can offer".
Jane Ellison MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury speaking on behalf of the Government said, "As I have said, we acknowledge the important role that credit unions play in local communities, but it became clear that a multiple provider model [...] offering accounts on a voluntary basis would not have guaranteed the UK-wide coverage that we wanted". The Government added that the Bill allows HMRC to approve a credit union to be an authorised account provider should the multiple provider model be adopted in future, and as there was no legislative barrier to credit unions offering the product in future. The opposition held that there no good reason for credit unions to be denied offering the Help to Save alongside the NS&I which would provide the national coverage the scheme requires.
Scottish Business Minister outlines Government support for credit unions
22 December 2016: Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, responds to a question from Mike Rumbles MSP, on what the Government is doing to promote credit unions. He notes that approximately 7.2% of population of Scotland now belong to a credit union.
Credit Union Mention in Autumn Statement question
7 December 2016: Diana Johnson MP asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for details of the expansion of the scheme to encourage credit union membership in areas at risk from loan sharks. Simon Kirby, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury responded,
"The scheme referred to at paragraph 3.45 of the Autumn Statement 2016 is undertaken by the England Illegal Money Lending Team. The Team recovers funds from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and currently uses this to fund community education work and a credit union incentive scheme in areas which are vulnerable to loan sharks. The scheme provides cash incentives for new credit union accounts into which consumers make regular savings.
In 2018, governance of the Team, and control of how it uses funds recovered under POCA, will transfer to HM Treasury. In April 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority will introduce a new levy collected from consumer credit firms which will fund the Team’s enforcement and education work. This will make it possible to free-up POCA funds currently used for education about loan sharks to expand the credit union scheme."
The Bishop of Birmingham praises 'excellent' credit union expansion project
29 November 2016: David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, speaking in the House of Lords Autumn Statement debate said, "Will the Minister also highlight the dire need of those who are not managing at all, and keep on with the promotion of focused initiatives such as coping with manageable debt and the early habits of saving, which are so necessary to the foundations of successful personal behaviour in a prosperous economy, in addition to the excellent credit union expansion project and Help to Save?"
John Mason MSP recognises work of local credit unions in Scottish Parliament motion
29 November 2016: John Mason lodges a motion noting the role of credit unions in Shettleston and across Scotland, and wishes them well in their ongoing work.
Motion in Scottish Parliament recognises the work of credit unions in access to affordable credit:
11 November 2016: Ruth Maguire MSP lodges a motion that recognises the role of credit unions, particularly 1st Alliance Credit Union in her own constituency, in ensuring access to affordable credit.
International Credit Union Day debate takes place in Scottish Parliament:
9 November 2016: Ruth Maguire, Chair of the Cross Party Group on Credit Unions said, "I am proud to mark international credit union day 2016; which took place on 20 October, with this member's debate in our Scottish Parliament. International credit union day has, since 1948 been celebrated on the third Thursday of October, and it exists to mark the achievements of the credit union movement to day, as well as to raise awareness an support for its work today and in the future."
Lanarkshire Credit Union's 25th Anniversary, Scottish Parliament:
9 November 2016: Claudia Beamish MSP lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament marking the anniversary of Lanarkshire Credit Union, and celebrating it's many successes.
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive, ABCUL, gives evidence at two financial inclusion committees
3 November & 8 November: ABCUL's Chief Executive Mark Lyonette was a witness at a meeting of the Treasury Select Committee to give evidence to its inquiry on access to financial services. The following week, Mark was back at Parliament to give evidence to the House of Lords Financial Exclusion Select Committee. Transcripts of these debates are linked in the dates above and the written evidence submitted by ABCUL is available here.
Amendment proposed to allow credit unions to offer the help to save
27 October 2016: Peter Dowd MP proposed an amendment to the Savings (Government Contributions) Bill that would allow credit unions to offer help to save accounts. He said, "credit unions which in many areas have an an excellent community base, command huge levels of trust and are embedded in communities" and expressed concern at credit unions not being one of the account providers. The amendment was later withdrawn as Gareth Thomas did not want to press the issue before ABCUL met with the Economic Secretary of the Treasury on the matter.
Castle Community Bank mentioned in building fairer Scotland debate
25 October 2016: Ben Macpherson MSP said in the Scottish Parliament, "I want to highlight Castle Community Bank as an example of the community and business using initiative and working together to have a positive impact on the common good and on financial inclusion".
Credit unions discussed in Help to Save debate
17 October 2016: The Government was challenged in Help to Save debate over excluding credit unions from directly offering the Help to Save account. Gareth Thomas MP said, "What I fail to understand is why credit unions cannot be allowed to offer the service to communities in their areas alongside NS&I. I hope that the Government will reconsider that point" whilst Rebecca Long-Bailey stated, "credit unions are vital for the roll-out of any savings scheme that targets the most deprived communities". Simon Kirby, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, later agreed to meet ABCUL to discuss the issue further.
During the debate the concept of a statutory right to allow people to save through a credit union via payroll deduction was mooted alongside calls for the Government to encourage all Whitehall Departments to allow their employees to access payroll deduction services.
Credit Unions improving welfare of Armed Forces
13 October 2016: Credit unions included by Mark Lancaster as one of the ways the Government is promoting the welfare of members of the Armed Forces. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence said, "in the last year Defence has enabled payroll deductions for Service personnel to take advantage of the savings and cheap loan facilities from selected credit unions. This facility was extended to veterans in receipt of a pension in March 2016".
Government asked to promote credit unions in Job Centres
10 October 2016: Baroness Hollis asked the Government, "given that so many people are spending up to 25% of their income on debt repayment – that is coming out of benefit income – can we ensure that jobcentres, benefit offices and other outlets promote the credit union initiative". Lord Young of Cookham responded outlining the Government backing of credit unions, with reference to the credit union expansion project and the launch of credit union services for the Armed Forces.
Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance outlines support for credit unions
26 Sep 2016: Angela Constance responds to a written question from Pauline McNeil MSP outlining Government support for credit unions: "We have also supported credit unions in recognition of their role in tackling financial exclusion; and in providing financial services and products to a wide range of customers. The report of the Credit Union Working Group “Scotland’s Credit Unions: Investing in Our Future” was published on 10 February 2016 (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00493888.pdf). One of the recommendations related to increasing the number of sustainable, junior savers schemes in partnership with schools across Scotland. I recently announced how a £300,000 fund to support Junior Savers Schemes will be disbursed in 2016-17."
International Credit Union Day celebrated in Scottish Parliament motion
23 Sep 2016: In a motion submitted by Ruth Maguire MSP, the work of credit unions globally and in Scotland was highlighted. The motion has gained cross party support, and will now be debated in the Scottish Parliament.
Credit unions highlighted in co-operative contribution to the economy debate
14 July 2016: In the debate, several MPs extolled the benefits of credit unions to their local areas including Christina Rees MP who said, "We all know the benefits of credit unions, but we must not underestimate their ability to lift people out of real poverty".
Credit unions feature heavily in debate on branch closures
30 June 2016: Credit unions received numerous mentions in a debate around bank branch closures, which discussed in what ways credit unions could be supported to continue providing services to underserved communities. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP said, "Credit unions are critical to our society now, particularly in areas that are experiencing deprivation." Harriet Baldwin said that the Government believes "credit unions are very much worth backing" and encouraged credit unions to come forward with proposals on how they might offer the Government backed Help to Save account.
Scottish Government values contribution of credit unions
14 June 2016: Paul Wheelhouse MSP said "credit unions provide vital financial services to a wide range of customers" and that "the Scottish Government has long recognised the valuable contribution of credit unions" in a debate about the effect of branch closures to local communities.
Scottish Parliament Celebrates Credit Unions and the Third Sector
7 June 2016: Johann Lamont MSP praised the third sector for its practical delivery and flagging up important issues, stating "we would never have done the work that we did on financial inclusion without looking to what the credit unions were asking for."
Credit Union Helping low-paid Workers to Save
26 May 2016: Jeremy Quin MP shared than in his experience low-paid people are able to save £50 a month through credit unions when talking about the Help to Save. Mr Quinn said low-paid workers saving this amount per month through the Help to Save scheme would receive a £1,200 Government bonus, and added "I welcome the scheme for its direct impact, but I welcome it even more for the cutlure of financial resilience it will provide".
Caroline Spelman MP answers question on churches support of credit unions
24 May 2016: In a written response to about how many credit unions have approached church organisations as a result of the Archbishop's #TOYOURCREDIT initiative, Caroline Spelman MP replied, "At least 31 out of 40 diocese have been actively involved in supporting over 50 credit unions in various ways, such as:
- promoting the local credit union in their congregation and wider community
- recruiting credit union volunteers
- hosting training session
- opening church premises as credit union access points
- encouraging payroll savings schemes among local employers helping to set up school savings clubs"
The full response can be found by clicking the link on the date of the response.
Chair of APPG presses case for Credit Union Involvement in Help to Save ISA
18 May 2016: In the debate following the Queen’s speech, the chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions Robin Walker MP said, “I am pleased to welcome measures to help the lowest income families to save through help to save and the creation of the Lifetime ISA. I have asked before – I take the opportunity of the Queen’s speech to ask again, on behalf of Members on both sides of the House – that we look at how we can involved credit unions in that process. Credit unions have immense support across the House and do incredibly valuable work in all our constituencies. As chairman of the all-party group on credit unions, I am keen for them to play a central role in the delivery of Help to Save.”
Post Office Card Customers Encouraged to Open Credit Union Accounts
12 May 2016: In a written response, the Minister of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Priti Patel confirmed that the Post Office Card Account (POCA) holders are being encouraged to open credit union and bank accounts for additional functionality. However, in a response to Valerie Vaz MP the minister clarified that the Post Office will continue to provide POCA service until at least 30 November 2021.
Stephen Tims MP Highlights 'Credit Union Month' across the London Diocese
05 May 2016: Stephen Tims MP drew attention to the #TOYOURCREDIT initiative piloted in London and Liverpool which “engaged more than 200 churches, trained 150 credit champions and is on target to bring in 3,000 new credit union members”. The MP for East Ham also welcomed the credit union month and the celebration of positive grassroots action of faith communities hosted at Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Government queried on facilitating the establishment of community banks
25 April 2016: Paul Monaghan MP asks what steps the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take to “facilitate the establishment of community banks that are willing to service rural communities and small local economies”. Harriet Baldwin, responding on behalf of the Government cited the Government's commitment to support the credit union movement in order to make financial services more accessible.
Lords discuss credit unions in unbanked and underbanked debate
11 April 2016: Lord Bishop of Durham asked HM Treasury Whip Lord Ashton of Hyde to comment on the place and role of credit unions serving the unbanked and underbanked. The bishop noted that "The churches and many others see them as a vital part of bringing people into financial services" and asked if the Government would "commit to further supporting that work". Lord Ashton of Hyde responded acknowledging that it was an important issues and cited the work that the Government has done in supporting the expansion of credit unions in recent years.
Government reaffirms commitment to credit union legislation
1 April 2016: In response to the Lord Kennedy of Southwark’s question on what plans the Government have for reviewing credit union legislation Lord O’Neil of Gatley noted the Call for Evidence on Credit Union’s commitment to potential changes to credit union legislation over the course of this parliament.
Credit unions compared to Australia’s Good Shepherd Microfinance
23 March 2016: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked the Government what steps it had been taking to promote community financial organisations similar to Good Shepherd in Australia in the light of the lack of affordable credit highlighted by a StepChange report. Lord O’Neil of Gatley responded highlighting the Government’s role in supporting the credit union expansion project, the launch of credit union services to the armed forces and the ‘LifeSavers’ project.
Lords agree on supporting credit unions to encourage savings
17 March 2016: The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked the HM Treasury Whip whether the Government would, as well as implement the help to save, support credit unions which endeavour to instil a savings culture amongst school children in the UK to tackle the 'presupposition of debt'. Lord Ashton of Hyde Agreed and noted that measures have been taken to support credit unions.
Defence Minister Highlights 'Joining Forces' Credit Union Services for Armed Forces Personnel
7 March 2016: In response to a question raised by Jim Shannon MP on how the Ministry of Defence is promoting credit unions, Mark Lancaster highlighted the recently launched Joining Forces which provides service personnel with access to dependable savings facilities and safe affordable loans. Featured in his response was expansion of these services to veterans of the armed forces, Mark stated, "work is currently under way to enable veterans who are in receipt of an Armed Forces pension to access the services provided by Joining Forces. It is expected that this facility will go live later this year."
More information can be found at: http://joiningforcescu.co.uk/
Seema Kennedy MP asks Chancellor about Workplace Money Management and Payroll Savings Schemes
25 February 2016: Harriet Baldwin cited the work with the credit union movement in promoting such schemes and mentions the recent initiative launched by the DWP to provide payroll savings facilities to those staff who are members of a credit union.
Diversity clause to stand part of Financial Services Bill
11 February 2016: Clause 19 which amends the principles of both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory authority to ensure the regulators consider the differences between different types of business, including mutual societies. Harriet Baldwin said, “I hope that introducing the clause, which puts consideration of mutuality and other types of business organisation into the regulators guiding principles, provides reassurance that the Government strongly supports a diverse financial services sector and the part that mutual’s play in achieving that”.
DUP MP asks what steps the Government are taking to help credit unions compete
21 January 2016: Gregory Campbell from the Democratic Unionist Party asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the Government will help credit unions compete in the personal loans and savings market. Speaking on behalf the Chancellor, Harriet Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury responded citing the increase in the maximum credit union interest rate on loans, the Credit union Expansion Project, and the amendment to the Bank of England bill ensuring that the regulators take account the differences between mutual societies and other types of firm as examples of Government support.
Chair of APPG on credit unions acknowledges WOCCU visit to UK
19 January 2016: Robin Walker, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on credit unions, said, “with the opportunity of the World Council of Credit Unions coming to the UK – to Northern Ireland – later this year, will the Chancellor commit to make sure we continue to build on the work of the credit union expansion programme and back this vital group”.
ABCUL lobbying helps ensure the removal of reverse burden of proof for credit union senior managers
15 December 2015: ABCUL lobbying efforts last week helped ensure that the ‘reverse burden of proof’ under the Senior Managers Regime would not apply to credit unions in a narrow vote in the House of Lords. Amendment 20 to the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill was defeated by 200 votes to 198. This amendment sought to protect the reverse burden of proof, under which credit union senior managers would be presumed guilty of regulatory failure until proven otherwise, under the Senior Managers’ Regime.
Lord Hunt of Wirral stated: “If this amendment were to be carried, we would have the reverse burden of proof applying to managers in credit unions. Credit unions in the vast majority of cases have fully non-executive volunteer boards which are democratically elected by and drawn from a credit union’s membership. They already face significant challenges in attracting and retaining skilled and experienced individuals willing to sit on their boards on a voluntary basis.”
Credit Unions' role in tackling fuel poverty recognised
7 December 2015: In a debate about domestic oil purchasing syndicates Andrea Leadsom, the Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, highlighted the work credit union are doing in helping to provide members with pay-as-you-go facilities for buying oil in rural areas.
Government backs savings through workplace credit unions
2 December 2015: In responding to the MP for Wirral West on question about household bills and exploitative lending, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury stated, “in the last Parliament, we took steps to bring credit under the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority. As a result of that, payday lending has dropped sharply. We are also backing credit unions in many different ways in this country, and we want to ensure that people have an opportunity to save through their workplace credit union.”
Harriet Baldwin: 'Government supports credit unions in diversifying the UK financial sector'
25 November 2015: Harriet Baldwin cites Government support for credit unions when asked what steps the Government is taking to support the greater diversification of lending in the UK banking sector. In answering the question of diversity Economic Secretary to the Treasury referred to the Government, “changing legislation to allow credit unions to admit corporate members [and] providing £500,000 to help armed forces personnel access credit union services”.
Harriet Baldwin MP highlights strong support for the credit union sector
23 November 2015: Answering Grahame Morris’ MP question on what steps the Treasury are taking to encourage the growth of stakeholder banks Harriet Baldwin stated, “The Government has encouraged the growth of the credit union sector by increasing the maximum interest rate that credit unions can charge on loans from 2% to 3% per month; investing £38 million in the sector through the department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Credit Union Expansion Project; ensuring that universal credit and pensions payments can be made into any credit union account and launching a Call for Evidence which allowed all credit unions, regardless of size or influence, the opportunity to contribute their vision for the future of the sector”
Harriet Baldwin MP states that the PRA considered the Call for Evidence in their CREDS proposals
4 November 2015: Harriet Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury stated, “The PRA have confirmed that they have taken into account the feedback received by HM Treasury in response to the Call for Evidence when formulating suggested reforms to CREDS”. The secretary stated that reforms should make credit union regulation more flexible and risk-based to reflect the growing sophistication of credit unions in the UK.
New Members of Parliament are encouraged to join their credit union, London Mutual
2 November 2015: Tom Brake states in a written response to Gareth Thomas, “LMCU is promoted on the Parliamentary intranet, in the House of Commons Staff Handbook and at new staff inductions.” Since November 2013, MPs have been able to save or make loan repayments directly through their salaries via payroll deduction to London Mutual Credit Union.
Justin Tomlinson MP explains what the DWP has been doing to promote credit unions
2 November 2015: Responding to Gareth Thomas who has been recently pursuing information on what different governmental departments have been doing to promote credit unions. Justin Tomlinson first mentioned the DWP funded expansion project to modernise and expand credit union services. Justin Tomlinson also stated that, “DWP [has] publicised the work of credit unions, encouraged DWP staff to join their local credit unions, and have ensured that benefit or pension payments can be paid into any credit union account.”
Gareth Thomas MP asks what steps the Church is taking to promote credit unions
29 October 2015: Gareth Thomas’ written question was answered by Caroline Spelman who highlighted the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task group on Responsible Credit and savings and the Church Credit Champions network. Caroline stated, “To date, the pilot scheme has engaged over 200 churches, trained 150 Credit Champions and is on target to bring in 3,000+ credit union members across London, Southwark and Liverpool dioceses”.
Lords discuss opportunity for credit unions in the Bank of England Bill
26 October 2015: The Bishop of Portsmouth wanted to, “place on record the importance today of credit unions, which – now that the building societies seem to have stepped away from local engagement – are often the best vehicle by which banking can take place responsibly and accountably within a local community". Lord Naseby agreed, “There is a gap between the plcs and the high-cost providers. It is in that area that credit unions are playing a key part”.
Baroness Kramer later commented, “A number of other noble Lords raised issues of great interest that this Bill gives us an opportunity to address, including that of diversity". Lord Bridges also recognised the “importance of the diversity of business models, especially of mutuals and credit unions”.
Chair of the All-Party Group draws attention to the Joining Forces credit union
22 October 2015: Robin Walker, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions asked, “Will the leader of the house [Chris Grayling] provide time for a debate so that Members throughout the House can draw attention to the availability of the new credit union?”
Michael Fallon announces launch of credit union services for the armed forces.
15 October 2015: Michael Fallon the serving Secretary of State for Defence stated in the House of Commons, “I assure the House that our commitment to the covenant remains unshakeable. Today, we are launching a credit union for armed forces personnel. By paying a regular amount of their salary directly into the credit union, they will be able to avoid the struggle for credit approval and the siren call of the payday lenders”.
Harriet Baldwin commits to continuing to support the credit union sector
7 September 2015: In response to Phil Boswell of the Scottish National Party who asked what support credit unions are receiving from the Government, Harriet Baldwin cited the previous Government’s call for evidence and pledged, “the Government is committed to continuing to support the credit union movement in making financial services more accessible”.
Credit Unions feature in Rent-to-Own debate
14 July 2015: Parliamentarians discuss credit unions in light of the rent to own sector. Paul Maynard who initiated the debate stated that, “credit unions have an important role to play, in part because they often have to sweep up the consequences of an engagement with the rent-to-own sector that has not gone well”. The exchequer secretary Damian Hinds (previous chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on credit unions backed “Government support for the credit union sector and the accompanying regulatory change”.
Iain Duncan Smith ‘determined’ to expand credit unions
1 July 2015: The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in a commons debate about child poverty, stated that the Government is determined to expand and work with credit unions as the key to providing financial support for people on low incomes. He also recommended that all MPs set an example by joining a credit union.
27 SNP MPs sign Early Day Motion celebrating 25th Anniversary of Dumbarton Credit Union
17 June 2015: 29 MPs, including 27 from the Scottish National Party, have signed an Early Day Motion which celebrates the excellent service provided by staff and volunteers of Dumbarton Credit Union for the last 25 years. This group also applauds the work of credit unions across the UK and “calls on the Government to continue to promote and support the development of credit unions across the UK.”
Hannah Bardell MP, hails West Lothian Credit Union
8 June 2015: Hannah Bardell speaking in the debate on the Scotland Bill said, “I also want to highlight the West Lothian Credit Union, which has done incredible work to give those on low wages the opportunity to save and borrow in a safe and ethical way.” The SNP MP also expressed a desire to facilitate further credit union lending to small and medium sized enterprises.
Government ‘working with credit unions to provide banking to those who need it’
3 June 2015: Commenting on financial and digital inclusion in the Queen’s speech debate, Lord Feud highlights the Government’s ‘big programme’ to make sure credit unions are in position to deliver low-cost credit to those who need it.
MP Robin Walker Welcomes Personal Savings Allowance
23 March 2015: in a commons debate Robin Walker MP said: “I warmly welcome both the £1,000 tax-free allowance for savings and the administrative changes that will remove a burden from savings organisations, including credit unions”. Robin also mentioned his attendance of the launch of Castle and Crystal Credit Union’s new payroll saving scheme with Worcester NHS Trust.
Tackling Financial Exclusion
17 March 2015: Nick Hurd MP highlights the issues of financial exclusion and the difficulties faced by people who lack access to the financial services required to function effectively in society. Credit union growth and the expansion project is cited as a key part of the larger efforts against financial exclusion in the UK.
Bidding war for credit union membership figures
12 March 2015: In his response to a debate about the Money Advice Service Lord Newby said: "We are now in the happy position of there being almost a bidding war between the political parties about how many more million members they want credit unions to have by 2020, which is very healthy for credit unions".
Lords discuss future credit union legislative reform
3 February 2015: Lord Kennedy of Southwark raises the questions of when the government is planning to reform legislation regarding credit unions. Lord Newby replies citing the government's Call for Evidence on credit unions in which the government commits to consider changing credit unions legislation in the new parliament. The Lords discuss common bond size and financial product restrictions as possible areas for reform.
At PMQs, the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, says that more support should be given to credit unions
12 June: In a response to a question from David Crausby MP asking the Prime Minister to congratulate Bolton Wanderers FC on their rejection of sponsorship from a payday loan company, David Cameron said: “We must give more support to credit unions in our country, which I think is one of the best ways of addressing the whole problem of payday loans and payday lending”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid MP, announces a consultation on raising the credit union interest rate cap
18 December: Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid MP, announces a Government consultation on raising the interest rate cap for credit union loans from 2% per month on the reducing balance of a loan to 3% per month or from 26.8% APR to 42.6% APR. This consultation resulted from the DWP's feasibility study for its Credit Union Expansion Project which recommended increasing credit union interest rates in order to enable more viable small-sum, short-term loans.
Lords debate credit unions
13 December: The vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, led a debate to take note of the work of credit unions. Other speakers included new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, former Chair of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, Lord McFall, Lord Collins of Highbury for the Opposition and Lord Freud for the Government. The debate was notable for the cross-party support which was expressed in the chamber.
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, recognises importance of credit unions
10 December: Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, recognises the role that credit unions have the potential to play in supporting the implementation of welfare reforms and competing with high cost lenders in an exchange with APPG on Credit Unions Chair, Damian Hinds MP, around the provision of jam jar budgeting accounts in support of Universal Credit.
Importance of credit unions stressed in debate around capping interest rates for high cost lenders
28 November: In a much-anticipated debate in the House of Lords around the proposal to provide the Financial Conduct Authority with the power to cap the cost of credit for high cost lenders, the importance of providing affordable alternative lenders such as credit unions is emphasised by various speakers including the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and Labour Party intellectual, Lord Glasman.
Role credit unions play in supporting prisoner rehabilitation emphasised
26 November: Ministry of Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright MP, emphasised the role that credit unions can play in supporting prisoner rehabilitation through the provision of inclusive financial products - particularly bank accounts - in response to a question from MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East and Chair of the Penal Reform APPG, Paul Goggins.
Former speaker supports credit unions
22 November: Former speaker of the House of Commons, Lord Martin of Springburn, highlights the role that credit unions play in helping redundant workers become self-employed.
Government's commitment to credit union development emphasised in the Lords
13 November: Lord Sassoon, HM Treasury spokesman in the Lords, sets out the Government's commitment to the development of credit unions and the range of measures it has taken to support their continued growth.
Tim Loughton MP questions Government Departments on support for credit unions
13 November: Government Ministers from DWP and Treasury set out the Government's support for the sector in response to written questions from Tim Loughton MP.
BIS Minister Jo Swinson highlights Government's Credit Union Expansion Project
23 October: In response to questions around the case for capping the cost of credit, Jo Swinson MP, BIS Minister, highlights the Government's efforts to expand credit unions as an alternative to high cost lenders through the Credit Union Expansion Project.
APPG on Credit Unions Chair, Damian Hinds MP, highlights credit unions' role in providing jam jar accounts
10 September: DWP Minister, Steve Webb MP, acknowledges the potential role of credit unions in supporting people to manage their money following the introduction of Universal Credit in response to a question from Damian Hinds MP, Chair of the APPG on Credit Unions, which highlights the cost-effective jam jar budgeting accounts which many credit unions are developing.
DWP Minister confirms consideration of credit unions as support for Universal Credit claimants
3 September: Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling MP, confirms in response to a written question from Yvonne Fovargue MP that the Government has been in discussions with credit unions as well as other providers in order to provide support to Universal Credit claimants when payment of housing benefit is made direct to the claimant.
Need for specialist treatment of credit unions under new regulatory structure recognised
25 July: Lords Treasury spokesman, Lord Sassoon, confirms that he would expect the new Prudential Regulatory Authority to make special efforts to put in place a suitable framework of regulation and supervision for credit unions based on the reality of their operations in response to a question from Baroness Kramer.
Lords show their support for credit union expansion plans
19 July: In a short debate instigated by Lord Kennedy of Southwark - Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions - Lords from all parties express their support for credit unions and the importance of expanding their services. DWP Minister responsible for the Expansion Project, Lord Freud, responded making clear the Government's vision of creating a self-sustaining sector.
Adjournment debate secured by Madeleine Moon MP and responded to by DWP minister Steve Webb
10 July: In a debate secured by Madeleine Moon MP, the role of smaller credit unions was emphasised and clarification was sought on some of the issues raised within the recent DWP feasibility report on credit union expansion.
Pensions Minister issues written statement on credit union modernisation feasibility report
10 May: Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP, issues a written statement outlining the findings of the DWP's feasibility report on the case for the expansion and modernisation of the credit union sector.
Business Minister confirms that work continues on developing partnership between credit unions and the Post Office
1 May: In response to a written question from Mark Lancaster MP on plans to make credit union services available through the Post Office, Business Minister Mark Prisk sets out the ways in which credit unions already work with the Post Office network and indicates that work ongoing in the Department for Work & Pensions will determine how proposals to make credit union services available at the Post Office might progress.
Pensions Minister pays tribute to the work of credit unions
23 April: Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP, pays tribute to the work of Erewash Credit Union in Derbyshire and others like it around the country and confirms that the Department will be making a statement soon on their plans for further support for the sector having received a feasibility report on how best to design that support.
Work & Pensions Minister confirms that an announcement will be made soon as to further Government support for credit unions
18 April: In response to a written question from Julian Smith MP, Work & Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP, says that the Government is considering the results of a feasibility study around future support for credit unions which will be published shortly in advance of a Ministerial announcement on the Government's intention going forward.
Treasury outlines support it has given to credit union development
16 April: In response to a written question from Mark Lancaster MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, affirms the Government's commitment to supporting credit union development before setting out the legislative measures which the Government has taken in this respect.
Government sets out recent legislative reforms in response to written question
26 March: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, outlines the provisions of the Legislative Reform (Industrial & Provident Societies and Credit Unions) Order 2011 in response to a written question from Mark Lancaster MP on steps the Government is taking to support the sector.
Peer hopes to see credit unions play a role in credit easing
22 March: In debate following the budget, Baroness Kramer, Liberal Democrat Peer and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions states her hope that credit unions will be included in credit easing measures citing the work that the Obama Administration in the US has done to increase credit union lending to SMEs there.
Government confirms that update on the DWP modernisation and expansion fund will be announced soon
1 March: In response to a question from All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions vice-chair, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, confirms that the Government has now received the results of a feasibility study into the potential investment of £73 million in credit union modernisation and expansion and an announcement on its findings will be made soon.
Debate on Jam Jar accounts highlights the valuable role of credit unions
28 February: In a debate secured by All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions Chair, Damian Hinds MP, the role that credit unions can play in providing cost-effective budgeting accounts is emphasised and the Government again confirms its commitment to supporting the development of such accounts, and credit unions generally.
Cross-party support for the role credit unions can play in providing access in rural areas
21 February: In a debate around rural bank closures, credit unions are cited repeatedly by Members of all parties as a means of ensuring access to financial services for rural communities. Responding for the Government, Assistant Whip, Chloe Smith MP, makes clear the Government's belief in the valuable role credit unions can play in providing choice and competition in financial services.
Pensions Minister cites work underway to develop budgeting accounts through credit unions
21 February: Steve Webb MP, DWP Pensions Minister, cites work his department is conducting to develop cost-effective budgeting accounts through credit unions and others as part of preparations for supporting the introduction of Universal Credit in response to a written question from Justin Tomlinson MP.
Green MP, Caroline Lucas, makes the case for more diversity in financial services and a greater role for credit unions in a debate around banking reform
7 February: Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party Leader, cites the need for greater diversity in financial services and a bigger role for credit unions and community banking in the closing remarks of her speech in a debate on refom of the banking system.
Lord Freud makes clear Government commitment to credit union development in Lords debate
2 February: Lord Freud, Welfare Reform Minister, makes clear the Government's support for credit union expansion whilst highlighting some of the sector's challenges in a debate arising from a question from APPG on Credit Unions Vice Chair, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
Government once more emphasises its commitment to linking credit unions and the Post Office
24 January: Minister for Postal Affairs, Ed Davey, illustrates partnership working between the credit union sector and the Post Office in a statement on the future of the network and once more emphasises the Government's commitment to expanding these links as the credit union sector develops.
Government Whip in the Lords sets out how devolved Social Fund could be used to support credit unions
17 January: Government Whip in the Lords, Lord de Mauley, cites plans in Greater Manchester for devolved Social Fund money to be used to expand the local credit union as a key innovation under plans to move the funding of Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for Living Expenses to local authorities and devolved governments from 2013.
Conservative supporter of co-operatives and mutuals emphasises support for credit unions
11 January: In an unrelated debate, Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, Jesse Norman, emphasises his support for credit unions and co-operatives and the role they play to empower and support people.
Government spokesman underlines role of credit unions in providing affordable credit
10 January: In response to a question from Lord Newby, Government spokesman in the Lords for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, Baronness Wilcox, emphasises the Government's position for injecting competition into the market for high-cost credit by supporting credit union development as an affordable alternative.
Credit unions' role in increasing competition in financial services
19 December: Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP talks about credit unions having a key role to play in increasing competition on the high street.
Credit unions' role in supporting move to Universal Credit
12 December: DWP Minister, Lord Freud, references the work that his department is doing with credit unions at the report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill. Credit unions are among a group of agencies that the Government is working with to provide budgeting accounts and support to those in receipt of Universal Credit.
Credit unions debated as part of solution to problematic debt
1 December: Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Damian Hinds MP, stresses the role that a strengthened credit union sector can play in supporting those struggling with excessive debt in a backbench business debate on Debt Advice and Debt Management.
Shadow Minister for Civil Society cites credit unions
25 November: Shadow Minister for Civil Society, Gareth Thomas MP, cites London Mutual Credit Union and its affordable pay day loan scheme as an example of social enterprise and the role that they can play in a more responsible financial services industry.
MPs debate credit unions and financial inclusion
23 November: MPs of all parties speak in support of credit unions, their importance and their continued development in a Westminster Hall debate, 'Credit unions and financial inclusion', secured by Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Damian Hinds MP, and coinciding with the APPG's Credit Union Fair & Reception. Employment Minister, Chris Grayling MP, once more sets out the Government's commitment to expanding the role of the credit union sector.
Treasury Minister highlights support for credit unions as evidence of commitment to mutuals
21 November: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, cites the support that Government has provided to the credit union sector in response to a question on what the Government has done to support mutual financial services in the debate around the announcement of the sale of Northern Rock back into the private sector.
Government enthusiasm for proposal to require high cost lenders to provide information on credit unions
3 November: In response to a question from APPG on Credit Unions vice-chair, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Baroness Wilcox - Business Innovation and Skills Minister in the Lords - responds positively to the suggestion that high cost creditors should be required to alert customers to the availability of cheaper credit from credit unions.
APPG members question DWP Minster on support for credit unions
24 October: APPG on Credit Unions members - Jesse Norman, Jeremey Lefroy, Chris Leslie and Madeline Moon - question DWP Minister Steve Webb on steps the Government is taking to support credit unions. The Minister confirms that DWP has invested £11.8 million since March this year and is currently considering further measures to support the sector's development. He also notes the recent passage of much-needed legislative reforms through the House of Lords.
Following approval by Committee, House of Lords vote to pass reform to Credit Unions Act
20 October: The Legislative Reform (Industrial & Provident Societies and Credit Unions) Order is debated and approved by the House of Lords, the debate fittingly taking place on International Credit Union Day. APPG Vice-Chair, Lord Kennedy, and Baronness Kramer make impassioned speeches about the value of credit unions and the importance of the LRO's long-awaited transformational reforms.
Vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Mark Durkan, queries NI regualtion
19 October: Mark Durkan MP questions the Government on progress towards moving Northern Irish credit unions into FSA regualtion. This move is currently being legislated for and a joint FSA-HM Treasury consultation is ongoing. The move will enhance protection for Northern Irish credit union members and allow Northern Irish credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury sets out Government measures to support credit unions
17 October: Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, sets out the Government's support for credit unions, including the DWP's £73 million modernisation and expansion fund, in response to a written question from Willie Bain MP. The Minister also briefly discusses the ways in which credit unions support financial inclusion.
Lords Treasury spokesman highlights the valuable role of credit unions
17 October: Government Treasury spokesman in the Lords, Lord Sassoon, makes supportive comments on the role that credit unions can play in a debate around the introduction of legislation to begin the process of moving Northern Irish credit unions into FSA regulation. The debate is dominated by technical, procedural questions around the Government's adherence to due process but all support the objectives of the Order under discussion.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP calls for debate on banks charging credit unions
15 September: Tom Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, asks the leader of the House, Sir George Young, for a debate around recent reports that RBS and Clydesdale Bank have begun charging credit unions for services previously provided free.
Chancellor of the Exchequer stresses support for credit unions
12 September: Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, mentions action the Government has taken to support the development of credit unions following questioning from Sheila Gilmore around steps the Government is taking to support financial mutuals. This took place during the debate around the Independent Commission on Banking's report. Jesse Norman later expresses his support for credit unions also.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury explains Government support for credit unions
9 September: Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, sets out the Goverment's measures to support the credit union sector - including legislative reform and investment - in response to a question relating to the introduction of a US-style Community Reinvestment Act in the UK.
Treasury Minister sets out Government support for credit unions
9 September: Treasury Minister, David Gauke, sets out the measures the Government is taking to support credit unions including legislative reforms and investment in response to a question from Graeme Morrice on corporation tax for credit unions.
Praise for 'outstanding role' of credit unions
19 July: Tom Clarke references the 'outstanding role' credit unions play in supporting his constituents to manage their financial affairs.
DWP Pensions Minister explains Government support for credit unions
18 July: DWP Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, responds to a written question from Laurence Robertson by giving details of the ongoing feasibility study which will determine if and how the Government invests £73 million in the modernisation and expansion of credit unions.
Prime Minister stresses the importance of expanding credit unions
13 July: At Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron points out the Government's commitment to expanding the credit union sector in response to a question concerning debt advice and the malpractice of Debt Management Companies from APPG on Credit Unions Secretary, Yvonne Fovargue.
APPG Chair stresses credit union role in offender rehabilitation
29 June: Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Damian Hinds, stresses the importance of financial inclusion for offender rehabilitation and the role that some credit unions play in providing financial services to inmates both before and upon release.
Government Minister talks of support for credit unions working with the Post Office
9 June: BIS Minister, Ed Davey, stresses the Government's hope that proposals for credit union services to be made available through the Post Office will be successfully implemented in a debate around the Postal Services Bill.
DWP Minister stresses role of credit unions in supporting welfare to work
24 May: DWP Minister, Chris Grayling, stresses the Government's support for credit unions in recognition of the role that the sector plays in providing affordable financial services to those unfairly excluded and the support this provides to those looking for work. Chris makes reference to credit unions which are working in Jobcentre Plus branches across the country.
Credit unions' role in rural areas highlighted
29 March: Members from all parties highlight the role credit unions have to play in providing financial services to remote rural communites in a Westminster Hall debate. Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, takes the opportunity to once again reiterate the Government's support for credit unions both in the form of legislative reforms and recently announced DWP investment.
HM Treasury emphasise support for credit unions
18th March: In response to a debate concerning the withdrawal of financial services from parts of London, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, outlines the important role credit unions have to play as part of a diverse financial services industry and the support Government are therefore providing through both investment and legislative reform.
Credit unions' role in Welfare Reform
9th March: Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, Damian Hinds MP, outlines the potential for credit unions to become involved in supporting the reformed Social Fund whilst setting out the limits to how far credit unions should be seen as a replacement for the Fund.
All-Party support in the Lords
8th March: In response to a question from Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Treasury spokesman in the Lords, Lord Sassoon, outlines the Government's commitment to supporting credit unions including the recent announcement of a £73 million modernisation fund which is warmly welcomed on all sides of the House.
£73 million investment modernisation fund for credit unions announced
3rd March: Work and Pensions Minister, Chris Grayling MP, issues a written statement which announces a £73 million modernisation fund for the credit unoin movement within which an amount is set aside for the development of a shared banking platform for the sector subject to fesibility studies. Grayling: "I want to see credit unions—in partnership with the Post Office—providing more services, more efficiently, to more people."
Big Society Minister: "Credit unions extraordinarily important"
2nd March: The Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, who has cross-cabinet responsibility for rolling out the Government's Big Society agenda, identifies the credit union movement as "extraordinarily important" as part of the social investment market and the Big Society Bank at ministerial questiontime.
Credit unions and the Post Office
1st March: Government spokesman in the Lords, Baroness Wilcox, affirms the Government's commitment to strengthening links between the Post Office network and credit unions.
Big Society Bank
28th February: Conservative MP Robert Halfon identifies the crossover between credit unions and the Big Society Bank as ethical, social lenders in a debate around the proposal.
Business Secretary underlines Government support
17th February: Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, reaffirms the Government's commitment to supporting credit unions in response to a question from Stella Creasy MP on regulation of high cost credit.
Support in the Lords for credit unions and the Post Office
16 February: Baroness Kramer, Baroness Kennedy and Lord Kennedy are all supportive of plans to make credit union services available through the Post Office in the Second Reading of the Postal Services Bill in the Lords.
Legislative Reform on the way
16 February: Mark Hoban MP Financial Secretary to the Treasury, confirms the Legislative Reform Order for credit unions will be laid "next month" in a debate called by Gareth Thomas MP, Chair of the Co-operative Party, around the Future of Financial Mutuals which saw supportive statements from all parties.
Cross Party Support for credit unions in a debate around capping credit costs
3 February: Credit unions receieved praise and calls for further support from all sides of the House in a backbench business debate to discuss a motion tabled by Stella Creasy MP which seeks to call on Government to introduce a system of caps on the total costs of different forms of credit.
David Cameron mentions credit unions twice in as many weeks at Prime Minister's Questions.
19th January: Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Labour): The north-east illegal moneylending team has a record of catching loan sharks and setting up credit unions in Easterside, Middlesbrough to encourage saving and safe lending. Worryingly, after all that hard work, the Department for Communities and Local Government website has signposted vulnerable people to loan companies offering rates of up to 2,689% APR. In light of that, will the Prime Minister please meet me to review his decision on the closure of that team?
David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative): I am very happy to arrange a meeting between the hon. Gentleman and the DCLG to discuss this issue. I think there is unity across the House that we should try to encourage credit unions and try to get people out of the hands of loan sharks. That is our policy and that is what we want to do, so I shall happily arrange that meeting.
26th January: Stella Creasy (Walthamstow, Labour): Last week the Prime Minister said something that I agree with: he said that we needed to do something about loan-sharking, so will he join me next week in supporting the motion to cut the cost of credit and support the poorest consumers in Britain with protection from those companies?
David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative): At the risk of building on what is clearly a blossoming friendship already, I will look carefully at what the hon. Lady says. On the issue of controlling loan sharks, one part should be encouraging credit unions. There is all-party support for that. Sometimes we have to be careful as we regulate that we do not drive out responsible operators and bring in loan sharks, so we must get the balance right. I will look carefully at what the hon. Lady is saying and perhaps get back to her.