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Guide for councils to back credit unions


12 Sep 16

A new guide launched at the Co-operative Party Conference shows councils how to support the growth of credit unions.

The new guide, published jointly by the Co-operative Party and ABCUL, sets out practical ways in which local councils can support the strengthening and expansion of credit unions in their local area.

The guide features examples of best practice including:

  • Providing payroll deduction facilities to council staff, making it easier for them to save and repay loans;
  • Working in local schools to encourage financial literacy and good saving habits;
  • Helping local residents adapt to paying their rent under Universal Credit by providing rent guarantees to local social landlords;
  • Support from local councils through the use of deferred shares or changes in procurement procedures.

The guide has been produced in response to concern among local councillors about people taking on unsustainable levels of debt through the use of high cost lenders, as well as wanting to help people deal with changes to their benefits and tax credits.

Cabinet Member at Haringey Council Cllr Joe Goldberg said: “We hope this guide will be useful to councillors who want to know how they can support their local credit union. In Haringey we have helped our credit union grow as a viable alternative in the marketplace by offering a subordinated loan. We also worked with them to ensure every secondary school starter in Haringey was offered a free £20 credit union account.”

ABCUL Head of Policy & Communications Matt Bland spoke at the launch of the guide at the Co-operative Party Annual Conference in Cardiff on 10 September, along with Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Inclusion and Policy at Preston City Council Cllr Matthew Brown and Cardiff & Vale Credit Union Chief Executive Leanne Herberg (all pictured).

Matt Bland said: “There is fantastic work happening across the country. There is much to be gained by working closely as councils can provide investment and access to residents, and in return credit unions provide much needed access to financial services and help councils deal with issues such as welfare reform.”

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