Opinion: Can the bank bailout boost credit unions?

LloydsTSB is now sufficiently strong that the current share price exceeds the price paid by the Government at the time of the bail-out. These shares can now be sold off and the money returned to the taxpayer. The sums are such that there is the potential to transform access to affordable credit for the most vulnerable in society – those hit hardest by the cost to the public of the original bail-out.

Poorer and vulnerable people have continued to suffer disproportionately ever since the bail-out, as incomes from low paid work or benefit payments lag behind inflation. They have faced a reduction in real terms income year on year. These are the people who have also created boom times for the payday lending companies and the loan sharks, which has heaped further poverty and misery upon them, as they see all hope of a brighter future disappearing over the horizon.

Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, has urged the Church of England to involve itself in the development of the Credit Union movement, making available premises and people, and facilitating the creation and expansion of credit unions. The Coalition Government has also promised some funding for this purpose.

If we were to use the sale of the Government share of these banks to bankroll a massive and rapid expansion of credit unions throughout the country, with their future safeguarded by this pot of several billions of pounds, we could create the alternative banking system which the Government sees as desirable. It would give the poorest members of our society real access to a fair, low-cost route to small loans which could render the payday loan companies redundant.

* Ian Hurdley joined the Liberal Party back in the 1960s. Before retiring to Spain he served for fourteen years as a magistrate on a Northern metropolitan bench and continues to take a keen interest in all matters to do with justice

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One Comment

  • I am so pleased to see Credit Unions getting publicity. The Daily Mail carried a very good two page article recently ( Yes, I read the D Mail when at my Mother in Laws, helps to keep my blood boiling!! ) promoting Credit Unions. On a practical level we can all support funding. I belong to my local Union, not to borrow money, but as a home for my vast savings ( well a few hundred pounds 🙂 ) Unions cannot loan out without having the money coming in. They are protected by the FSA in same way as Banks. Offering any skills as a volunteer or a mention in a Focus can also help.
    If you are not a member of a Union, seek your local one out and join.

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