More and more people from many different walks of life are joining Credit Unions.
Most Credit Unions now offer a valuable range of services, including loans and saving accounts, and many also support development initiatives in the communities they serve.
Importantly, they offer an alternative to high-interest, short-term loans from payday lenders like Wonga, and also help people to steer away from rent-to-own stores, such as Brighthouse.
That’s why I’ll be marking International Credit Union Day.
It is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the contribution of 57,000 Credit Unions in 105 countries. And, in this era where so many people are struggling, an opportunity to improve awareness the work they so.
But there is still much to do.
Our movement was successful in making the case for financial regulation to cap pay-day loans, now it’s time to extend it to other types of high-cost credit.
The rent to own sector in particular is in need of reform.
Advertised low amounts per week charged for household goods such as TVs, settees and fridges, initially seem attractive, but I have seen constituents of my own who have ended up owing thousands of pounds over a period of years.
In the last year, there has been a steady increase in people seeking assistance when these debts get out of control, so now is the time to call for greater regulation on what firms can charge.
Financial inclusion driven by Credit Unions across the country is vital. The wide range of financial products they offer must benefit from wider public awareness.
Therefore, practical guides such as the joint work produced by the Co-operative Party and ABCUL, which focusses on the ways that local government can support Credit Unions, are hugely important.
Their work should be seen as a benchmark for the country’s major financial institutions in how to provide accessible community banking.
Both councils and Credit Unions serve communities and can provide access to new customers and often those most in need.
A lot more can be done to help find other sources of credit for poorer people in our society, and Credit Unions have a big, big role to play.