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Holyrood debates credit unions


10 Nov 16

Parties across the Chamber have spoken in support of credit unions in a Scottish Parliamentary debate.

The debate was secured by Ruth Maguire MSP (SNP, Cunninghame South) after the Motion she tabled for International Credit Union Day was supported by MSPs from across the parties.

Opening the debate, Ruth Maguire MSP (pictured) welcomed the broad cross-party support for the movement and highlighted the role credit unions play in providing affordable credit and supporting people who may struggle to access credit elsewhere, including the contribution of 1st Alliance (Ayrshire) Credit Union in her constituency.

She also stated her support for the movement’s priorities as outlined in the ABCUL Scotland Credit Union Charter, saying: “Among other things, the charter calls for employers to be encouraged to partner with credit unions; for people’s financial health to be improved by the encouragement of regular saving and responsible borrowing; for a stronger credit union presence to be developed in schools; and for the capacity of credit unions as providers of affordable credit in our society to be promoted and supported. I look forward to working with members across the chamber to achieve those aims during the parliamentary session.”

Dean Lockhart MSP (Scottish Conservatives, Mid Scotland & Fife) welcomed the contribution of the UK Government’s Credit Union Expansion Project to the development and modernisation of the sector, and highlighted the work in his region of Stirling Credit Union helping people save and repay loans through payroll deduction, as well as its junior savers schemes in schools. He said: “I offer my congratulations to the many people across Scotland who have made credit unions a success. It is my pleasure to support the motion in the name of Ruth Maguire, and I look forward to supporting the continued leadership of the Scottish credit unions.”

Claudia Beamish MSP (Scottish Labour & Co-operative, South of Scotland) highlighted that “Credit unions are truly for everyone”, and that, “being a member of a credit union can help people to prepare for the unexpected.” She pointed to the work of Lanarkshire Credit Union in her region and highlighted innovation in the credit union movement to attract new members, noting that: “Things such as online banking and payroll deduction have meant that it has become easier to join a credit union.”

This point was echoed by John Finnie MSP (Scottish Green Party, Highlands & Islands), who drew on his own experience with credit unions and stated that: “An important way to encourage membership is to have employers play a role in deductions from salary.”

Responding for the Scottish Government, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse MSP noted that: “Credit unions play a vital role in our economy by providing a range of ethical financial products and services to a wide range of customers, many of whom face financial exclusion”, and he pledged the continued support of the Scottish Government for the movement, saying: “Members across the chamber recognise the huge contribution that credit unions make by providing responsible and ethical financial services that strengthen the financial capability of communities and change individual lives for the better. We will continue to support that important work and raise the profile of the credit union movement in Scotland.”

Scotland's credit unions serve over 387,000 members (including more than 56,000 junior savers) who are saving £484 million and borrowing £296 million. The movement's assets are worth £562 million, and serving 7% of the population, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe.

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