Thursday, 7 October 2010 12:00 AM
Credit unions, according to Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of ABCUL - the Association of British Credit Unions - are in an ideal position to help the Government achieve its aim of increasing diversity in financial services.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, Mark Lyonette explained how credit unions now serve nearly a million people in England, Scotland and Wales and sought reassurance from Financial Services Secretary Mark Hoban that the Coalition Government would support the sector to expand and serve more people.
"Once new legislation is in place - and we sincerely hope that any further delays can be avoided - many more individuals, as well as local community groups and businesses, will be able to access credit union services. We are confident that everyone in Britain will soon be able to join a credit union and have the option of a mutual and local home for their money.
"I look forward to seeing how the Government's aims of fostering diversity and promoting mutuals will translate into action to support the growth of the credit union sector."
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban MP, who also spoke at the fringe meeting, said: "The Government supports credit unions as part of its policy commitment to foster diversity in financial services, promote mutuals and create a more competitive banking industry.
"I believe that strong credit unions, as part of a diverse financial services sector, will greatly enrich British society. It is in our interest, therefore, that the credit union movement should prosper and we are determined to help credit unions grow and expand into the future."
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Notes to Editor:
Conservative Party Conference Fringe Event
The fringe event "Mutual Financial Services - How can financial services work in the public interest?", organised by Mutuo, took place at the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday 5 October from 12.30pm to 2pm at the Novotel in Birmingham.
Credit union legislation
A draft Legislative Reform Order currently before Parliament will change the Credit Unions Act 1979 and remove restrictions which currently prevent credit unions from:
. Serving more than one group of people - e.g. people living or working in an area and employees of a national employer
. Providing services to local community groups businesses and social enterprises
. Paying interest on savings instead of a dividend.
ABCUL is the main trade association for credit unions in England, Scotland and Wales. At the end of June 2009, ABCUL's 325 credit unions were managing nearly £450 million of members' savings on behalf of over 550,000 people, and had over £375 million out on loan.
ABCUL is the country's largest development, information and training network for new credit unions. It is a democratic, not-for-profit organisation and is improving day-to-day operations, legislation and regulation for all credit unions.
Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned and controlled by their members. They are licensed deposit takers, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and they are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so the first £50,000 of a member's savings are completely safe.