Belfast Telegraph

Unions on up as bank alternative

By Vicky Shaw

The emergence of credit unions as an alternative to high street lenders continued yesterday after figures showed further growth in savings and loans.

The Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) said some £703m in savings was being managed by credit unions on behalf of 952,000 members by September 2011, with loans worth £571m.

This is a rise on the £690m worth of savings and £561m in loans by the end of last June by credit unions, with 940,000 members, according to figures released by ABCUL which are submitted by credit unions to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The credit union sector in Britain is relatively small compared with other countries such as the US and Canada, with just 3% of people using credit unions here. But there are more than 400 credit unions in Britain and membership is expected to top one million this year.

Credit unions were given beefed-up powers by the Government in January.

The reforms enable the financial co-operatives controlled by their own members to pay interest on deposits for the first time and by accepting new types of membership.