Welsh credit unions look to future
04 Mar 16
Welsh credit unions have gathered in Cardiff to hear political parties outline their vision for the movement.
The Future of Credit Unions in Wales event was organised by ABCUL with sponsorship from Scape Group, and heard Assembly Members from all four parties in the Senedd share their ideas and priorities for boosting credit union growth and sustainability ahead of the Assembly elections in May.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, also addressed the meeting. He outlined why the Church in Wales is keen to do more to support credit union growth in Wales.
Dr Morgan said: “Credit unions can help break the cycle of debt-driven poverty by encouraging saving as well as responsible borrowing. They also provide a real alternative for people from all walks of life who want to manage their money in an ethical way. Our churches across the country will do all in our power to support the future growth of credit unions in Wales”.
Membership of Wales’ 20 credit unions has more than doubled in the last 10 years and now stands at 72,000. In 2014, credit unions made loans worth £18m to members.
With the Welsh Government’s grant funding for credit unions due to end in 2017, representatives from Welsh credit unions were keen to hear about the potential future policy direction. The speeches demonstrated the strong cross-party support that credit unions enjoy at the Senedd.
The Assembly Members speaking at the event were Welsh Labour’s Mick Antoniw AM (who chairs the Senedd’s Cross-Party Group on Co-operatives), the Conservative Shadow Minister for Communities Mark Isherwood AM, Plaid Cymru’s Bethan Jenkins AM, and Peter Black AM of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Following the lunchtime reception, ABCUL’s Head of Policy and Communications Matt Bland gave credit union staff and directors a presentation on the current regulatory issues and challenges.
ABCUL’s Welsh Policy Officer Joe Allen said: “More and more people are turning to credit unions for savings and loans. This demonstrates that there is a real appetite for financial organisations that put their members first.
“We want to turn Wales into a true credit union nation and we are calling on the next Welsh Government to help us do that by investing in the sector and helping us build the capacity we need to grow.”