The Government is committed to supporting the expansion of credit unions as a key way of tackling financial exclusion and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is spearheading the expansion project with a £38m investment. But the investment alone won’t make the project happen.
Let’s start thinking about how the wider civil service can play a part to help the transformation of the sector to expand and serve a larger and more diverse membership.
Volunteers are a key part of credit unions and civil servants can offer business and developmental skills across a wide range of disciplines which although not exhaustive includes: IT, finance, strategy planning, business development, customer service, HR and governance.
By getting involved in your local credit union you can:
- give something back to your community
- utilise your skills and attributes
- access training
- benefit your own personal development
- attain a sense of real achievement
I believe more civil servants volunteering their services to credit unions would be good news for credit unions, their members and consumers and to the individuals themselves. Credit Unions offer a safe and easy way of saving which is always a good habit to get into, even if it’s only a very small amount. They are also a source of ethical and affordable loans. They don’t add on interest up front, or make charges for early repayment of loans, as many financial institutions do. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being a part of the credit union. Not only by being able to use my skills and knowledge as a qualified Accountant to help the Sheffield Credit Union and put them on a much firmer financial footing, but also out of seeing the organisation develop and occasionally rescue the less fortunate from the clutches of the extortionate pay day lenders. I would definitely encourage anyone to get involved with their local credit union as a volunteer or Board member.
So what are Credit Unions?
There are around 370 credit unions in Great Britain. They are co-operative mutual businesses owned and controlled by their members. They are operated by a board of non- executive and unpaid directors for and on behalf of those members and they are regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. They offer a range of services from savings to low cost ethical lending plus in some cases budgeting or bank accounts.
Could you help this transformation? Want to find out more?
Visit http://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/home to find out where your local credit unions are based and how you could help.