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Parties call for a Credit Union Nation

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24 Mar 16

The Scottish Parliament Election campaign has begun with strong cross-party support for credit unions.

43 candidates from all 5 parties represented in the last Parliament have already pledged their support for ABCUL’s Credit Union Charter, which outlines the key ways the Scottish Parliament can help improve the nation’s financial health by supporting credit unions.

The Credit Union Charter calls for employers to make saving and repaying loans via payroll deduction a standard workplace benefit for people across Scotland, and for every school in the country to have a credit union champion to help pupils learn about saving and budgeting.

The Charter’s supporters include the SNP Government’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservative Finance Spokesman Murdo Fraser, Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie, and Scottish Green Party Co-Convener Patrick Harvie.

The parties have begun formally laying out their policies for the election. All 16 Scottish Co-operative Party candidates – who run jointly as Scottish Labour candidates – have endorsed the Charter, including Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale who said: “I was also very happy to sign up to ABCUL’s recent call to make Scotland a Credit Union Nation. We need to look for more ways to promote credit unions and I support trying to find ways to encourage young people to save in credit unions. My battle against payday lenders convinced me that we need to find ways to ensure that credit unions are found on the high street in the same way payday lenders are.”

The Scottish Green Party – which includes the last Parliament’s Convener of the Cross Party Group on Credit Unions John Wilson among its candidates – has also laid out its support for the movement. The party’s Co-Convener Patrick Harvie said: “We need a stronger local banking and credit union network to give people more choice, support lending to small businesses and create resilience to withstand future financial shocks.”

All the parties are expected to publish their manifestos in the next few weeks ahead of the election, which is held on Thursday 5 May.

ABCUL Scotland Policy Officer Karen Hurst said: “Encouraging regular saving and responsible borrowing is a key way to build financial health, and credit unions play a vital role in helping people get – and stay – on top of their finances.

“We’re delighted to have the support of so many candidates from across the parties for our campaign to make Scotland a Credit Union Nation – something that would benefit the whole country.”

Scotland has just over 100 credit unions serving more than 375,000 people – including 52,000 junior savers – who are saving £454 million and borrowing £276 million. Everyone in Scotland has a credit union they can join, and with 7% of the population using a credit union, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe (after only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland).

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