Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Today marks International Credit Union Day – a worldwide celebration of the achievements and importance of the credit union movement. Since 1948, citizens around the globe have taken part in events which recognise the work and history of the credit union movement in providing inclusive and accessible financial services.

Credit unions are member owned financial co-operatives, which provide financial services similar to retail banks, such as loans and savings accounts. Credit unions are based on a common bond, such as living in a particular city or working in a specific sector. Credit unions run on a democratic model, which puts their members in control – so that they are always run in the best interests of their membership, rather than distant shareholders.

Since their inception, credit unions have been transformational for people across the world. Credit unions have provided accessible financial services for many of the poorest communities, helping to increase their financial inclusion and personal savings. This has enabled working people shut out by conventional banks to access money to help support their families, start new businesses, improve their homes and invest in their children’s education. As such, credit unions can play a vital role in raising living standards and increasing socio-economic development. At a time of a cost-of-living crisis, credit unions can provide a financial lifeline for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Co-operative Party believe we must support the credit union sector in the UK to deliver greater services and support to working people during the period of economic turmoil. We want to see the range of financial services credit unions can provide increase, to include mortgages, car finance and inter-credit union lending. This would strengthen the sector and expand financial inclusion to millions at this critical time. A redefinition of the common bond – to make it wider and more encompassing – would enable more people to join credit unions throughout the UK. Finally, a new payroll deduction scheme for all public sector workers into credit unions would be able to boost credit union growth and provide affordable financial services for public sector key workers.

The credit union has brought a great deal of benefits to people and communities across the UK since their emergence in the mid-20th century. The Co-operative Party are committed to supporting the credit union movement so it can deliver its benefits to future generations for years to come.