The credit union sector is especially strong in Scotland, with more than 1 in 20 people currently members of credit unions (as compared with around 1 in 65 in Britain). In the city of Glasgow, 1 in 5 residents are credit union members.
In total, there are 109 credit unions in Scotland serving over 250,000 people with over £210m in savings and £180m out on loan. Many credit unions are offering an extensive range of services including life savings insurance, cash ISAs, pre-paid debit cards, current accounts and even mortgages.
In recognition of the strength of the movement in Scotland and the role credit unions play in offering safe savings, affordable credit and a wide range of financial services to people in communities up and down the country, past and present Scottish Governments have been keen to support the development and growth of credit unions.
Most recently, Scottish credit unions received a total of more than £1.3m from the Scottish Government's Third Sector Enterprise Fund. This investment will help credit unions upgrade their facilities, extend their services to a wider range of people, and continue to develop and grow as thriving social enterprises offering a real local, ethical and co-operative alternative to the banks.
Credit unions in Wales - in addition to receiving support from central government - have been well-supported by the Welsh Government in the 10 years since its inception.
In recent years this has involved a central role for credit unions in the Financial Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan. As part of this, a research project was completed in 2009 into the development needs of Welsh credit unions which informed the Credit Union Action Plan.
As part of Welsh Government's One Wales commitments, Welsh credit unions have now achieved full geographical coverage of the country and Welsh Government want to see membership rise from 1.8% to 6% of the Welsh population.