Rev Iain May

Rev Iain May

The Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Credit Unions met on Wednesday (15th January) to explore the potential for credit unions to work with churches and other faith groups.

Speakers from South Leith Parish Church, the Church of Scotland and Heriot-Watt University presented ideas on how the credit union movement might be further strengthened with the support of church congregations and people of faith across Scotland.

Rev Iain May told attendees how the growth of high cost lenders in Leith had motivated local church congregations of different denominations to work together to explore whether a new credit union might provide a sustainable, ethical alternative for people of all income levels in Leith and beyond.

David Hunter outlined how the Church of Scotland is keen to bring a range of partners together to identify areas where it might be able to help credit unions, and highlighted that the churches can use their profile to open people’s eyes to issues such as high cost lending and the potential for credit union growth – as demonstrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s intervention last summer.

Dr Robbie Mochrie presented some of the ways the Church of Scotland might be able to support credit unions through a pool of skilled potential volunteers, experience of similar models of governance and its rich history of social interventions and fundraising.

The meeting, which was once again very well attended by MSPs, credit unions and a wide range of stakeholders, then had a lively discussion which raised new ideas and provided much food for thought.

Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Credit Unions John Wilson MSP said: “The presentations and discussions at the Cross-Party Group were stimulating and thought provoking as we look towards the future of credit unions. The meeting brought to attention the churches’ role in promoting the continued growth of credit unions in Scotland, recognising the potential talent which can be harnessed within church congregations in assisting communities in establishing and supporting credit unions”.

• Full story at the Association of British Credit Unions.