Category Archives: Co-operatives

Global credit union movement surpasses 260 million

The World Council of Credit Unions has released its latest report, which shows the continued growth of credit union membership around the world, surpassing 260 million members in 117 countries. This is an increase from its 2016 report, which showed membership of 235 million members in 109 countries.

WOCCU logoThe most notable changes from the end of 2013 to 2017 are 12 million new members in the US, 11 million each in Latin America and Africa, 7 million in Asia and one million in Europe.

“This year we can celebrate as a global community. We have realized our vision of reaching 250 million members by the year 2020,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “We see that membership growth continues to reflect the important role that credit unions have in providing economic empowerment to people worldwide.

“The three primary challenges we hear from credit unions everywhere are advocacy, disruptive technology and membership growth. For 2019, we will launch the logical next step and take on the second global challenge, which is disruptive technology. We are gearing our efforts toward digitization, including access to core services by online and mobile channels, automation of internal processes and connection to local payments and electronic ecosystems. If we want to continue growing and competing in tomorrow’s disruptive markets, we take on this challenge, make it our own and market the advantage to serve the under-served.”

The World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. It promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

World Council reports data based on country responses to its annual survey and does not make estimates for non-reporting countries. The Statistical Report provides the most comprehensive data on the global credit union movement available and is cited widely by governments, international institutions and analysts as an expert resource.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council’s impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

Credit union marks Armed Forces Day with Forces Finance commitment

London Mutual Credit Union launches a dedicated new financial support service for the armed forces on this year’s Armed Forces Day (Saturday 30th June).

Forces Finance PhotoSince first partnering with the Ministry of Defence in 2015, London Mutual Credit Union has provided £2 million worth of loans to over 1000 armed forces personnel, saving them an estimated £1.3 million compared to the cost of high street lenders and various payday lenders such as Wonga.

The new Forces Finance initiative will give serving members of the armed forces and their families access to a range of specially developed financial services which meet the unique requirements of armed forces personnel.

London Mutual Credit Union is a financial co-operative that exists for the benefit of its members who live and/or work in the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster or Camden, and serving members of the British Armed Forces. Established in 1982, London Mutual Credit Union has over 28,000 member-owners.

Historically, service personnel have encountered difficulties accessing credit and other financial services, due in part to moving regularly and not being able to build up a good credit rating. Some have also been targeted by payday loan companies.

Lucky Chandrasekera, Chief Executive of London Mutual Credit Union, says: “Our figures show the clear demand for financial services built around the specific needs of armed forces personnel and their families. The disruptive and often highly mobile nature of life in the services can make financial planning difficult for many service personnel, as well as making it harder to build an address history or a strong credit record.”

Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by their borrowers and savers and serve a specific community. This enables them to offer advantageous rates, products and terms tailored to the specific circumstances of their members.

Lucky adds: “The launch of the Forces Finance service is designed to build on our experience of working with armed services personnel over the past three years and underscores our commitment to delivering a bank built around ‘serving those who serve’.”

In the months ahead, the credit union will work with its 1000 members who are in the armed forces to design new financial products and member benefits built around the needs and realities of forces life.

In addition, on this year’s Armed Forces Day the credit union will launch a dedicated website and large scale marketing campaign designed to reach serving members of the armed forces.

Phone Co-op members vote for Transfer of Engagements to Midcounties Co-operative

Members of The Phone Co-op, the UK’s only telecoms co-operative, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of their Board’s recommendation for a transfer of engagements to The Midcounties Co-operative.

Phone Co-op logo91% of members attending The Phone        Co-op’s Special General Meeting in Sheffield on 28 April voted for a merger with Midcounties. 223 votes were cast by delegates attending in person and online, with 202 voting in favour of the motion and 17 against.

The transfer of engagements was confirmed at a second Special General Meeting in Droitwich on 12 May, where it was passed by 75 votes out of 76. The transfer is due to take place on          1 June.

Jane Watts, chair of The Phone Co-op said: “I am delighted that The Phone Co-op’s members have voted to join Midcounties Co-operative. This move will make sure that we have a              co-operative provider of telecoms, as it becomes ever more central to our lives, and extends the offer we can make to our members.

“Our co-operative and ethical values will continue to be central to the service and our staff will contribute their expertise and shared values as we move forward.”

Ben Reid, CEO of Midcounties Co-operative, welcomed the result of the vote which he described as, “…an opportunity to bring together two strong businesses [The Phone Co-op and Co-op Energy, part of Midcounties Co-operative] to create a co-operative utility provider.”

In a separate motion, members attending the Sheffield AGM of The Phone Co-op voted by a simple majority to approve The Phone Co-op’s Strategy for 2018-2022. 136 members voted for the motion, with 50 voting against and 37 abstaining.

The second Special General Meeting was held at Chateau Impney Hotel and Exhibition Centre in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The meeting followed the Midcounties Co-operative AGM which was being held at the same venue earlier in the day.

Nine out of ten members rate London Capital Credit Union

Eight in ten credit union members nationally are satisfied with the services offered, while in north London, London Capital Credit Union sees nine out of ten members rating its financial services as ‘very high’.

LCCU logo

The largest ever survey of credit union customers, published by Financial Inclusion Centre, found that 81% of members across the country were extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their credit union, while 84% said they would recommend a friend or family member. This compares to a recent Which? survey showing that mainstream banks’ average overall customer satisfaction score was only 68%.

Islington-based London Capital Credit Union is one of the largest and fastest growing credit unions in the capital, with over 15,000 members and outstanding lending of nearly £12 million. As a not-for-profit co-operative, London Capital Credit Union provides savings and low cost loans to people living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

Financial Inclusion Centre research also demonstrated just how important the broad range of financial services being delivered by these not-for-profit financial providers are, with the majority of respondents using their credit union as an affordable and fair source of borrowing – giving them an invaluable alternative to high-cost credit such as payday loans, rent-to-own firms and door-step lenders.

Credit unions work hard to help their members understand financial issues and members are shown to score well compared to the general population on a range of financial capability measures, saying they feel they have their finances under control and are confident in dealing with money matters.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “The findings of the largest ever credit union customer satisfaction survey back up what we see at London Capital Credit Union and show that most members are extremely satisfied with the services provided.

“With the current pressures on household finances, credit unions such as ours provide an essential lifeline for many, offering affordable loans in time of need and supporting people to develop a saving habit. At London Capital Credit Union, we believe it is important to help people make the most of their finances and this survey shows the hugely positive contribution that credit unions make to our communities.”

Mick McAteer, Co-Director of Financial Inclusion Centre, added: “These results are very encouraging and go to show that credit unions are highly regarded by those that use them, with higher satisfaction rates than mainstream banks.”

 A copy of the report, ‘An Insight into Credit Union Membership’, can be found here.

London Capital Credit Union reports record growth

Members who went along to London Capital Credit Union’s AGM heard how the credit union has continued to grow rapidly and that 2015-16 was another record year.

LCCU logoIn the financial year 2015-16, the credit union’s membership increased by 19%, savings by 22% and loan balances by a huge 30%.

The AGM, which was held at the UNISON Centre in London on 2 February, saw a fantastic turnout of 148 members who found out how their credit union had performed over the past year and its plans for the future. At the meeting, members agreed an increase in the credit union loan interest rebate and Young Savers Account interest from 0.75% to 1% while maintaining dividend on savings at 0.75%.

Helen Baron, Director and President of London Capital Credit Union, said: “London Capital Credit Union is one of the fastest growing credit unions in Britain. We now have some 15,000 members who between them have more than £10 million in savings. In 2015-16 we gave out over 5,700 loans to a value of nearly £8 million.

“The last twelve months or so have been very exciting for the credit union as we work to meet our social goals as well as providing fair and affordable financial services. We were one of the first financial institutions in the UK to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter; we became an accredited London Living Wage employer and the Fairbanking Foundation charity awarded its first 5 star mark to us for our ‘Saver Loan’ and ‘Instant Saver Loan’ products.

“We continue to focus on providing first class customer service and our annual member survey continues to show high levels of overall member satisfaction. This is borne out by the fact that much of our growth comes through personal recommendation.

“We look forward to continuing to offer a range of fair and flexible financial solutions which meet the needs of all members of our community – whether that is loans provided at a reasonable rate of interest, the promotion of thrift through the accumulation of savings or education in the wise use of money.”

London Capital Credit Union was established in 1962, and provides services for anyone living, working or studying in Barnet, Camden, City of London, Hackney, Haringey or Islington, as well as any member of Unite the Union or UNISON in Greater London, any member of The Co-operative Group South East Region and the employees of many other local and national organisations.

Post Carbon Co-ops – opportunities out of crises?

Post Carbon Co-ops logoA conference that takes place in the New Year will be addressing the post carbon landscape from a co-operative perspective.

The current energy bonanza based on fossil fuels cannot go on forever. Climate change reasons apart, fossil fuels are not inexhaustible. New extraction methods such as fracking promise false hope and renewables can never recreate the massive energy surplus that oil, coal and gas have provided.

The conference entitled Post Carbon Co-ops aims to bring co-operative activists together with activists from other progressive organisations to debate some of the key issues facing our future.

The post carbon landscape will impact on all areas of everyone’s lives, from access to food and transport, to energy and manufacturing. Post Carbon Co-ops will examine how co-ops can provide solutions.

Dr Mark Simmonds from Co-op Culture, who is one of the keynote speakers at the Future Co-ops conference, said: “In these times of economic uncertainty, resource depletion and climate change, the one thing we can be sure of is that the world will become a very different place in the short to medium term.

“Energy descent, in particular, will increasingly become a fact of life. We need to think strategically about the co-operative response to this challenge. How can communities co-operate to build resilience? What does a post-carbon co-operative economy that can survive and thrive, look like?”

According to Jo White of Co-operative Futures, the organisers of the event, co-operatives have led the way in offering solutions to emerging crises and the co-ops of the future need to start planning for the post carbon landscape.

“We are looking forward to welcoming a wide range of activists to Post Carbon Co-ops in February and we are hoping to move the debate forward on positive co-operative solutions for a low carbon future.”

Post Carbon Co-ops takes place on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th February 2017 at Jurys Inn in Cheltenham and delegates can book their place at early bird prices online now.

International recognition for Islington Council and London Capital Credit Union

Islington Council’s work in support of its local credit union has gained international recognition as it hosted a group of senior managers from Singapore.

Singapore Visit

The photo shows (from left to right): Ms Dolly Goh, Chief Executive of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, and Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union.

The group from the Singapore National Co-operative Federation was greeted by the Leader of Islington Council, Councillor Richard Watts, at Islington Town Hall, before visiting the offices of the credit union in Archway.

The delegation met with representatives from Islington Council and London Capital Credit Union at the Town Hall and heard how the council had supported London Capital Credit Union to become the success it now is and how this benefits residents across the borough.

The group then visited the credit union to speak directly with members and staff about the credit union’s mission and the way it encourages saving and responsible lending to residents in Islington and beyond.

Cllr Watts said: “These are difficult times for hard pressed families in Islington and beyond, as many people deal with the rising cost of living.

“Multiple loans from payday lenders are a pathway to deeper poverty, and the council has taken action to support residents to avoid getting into problem debt.

“Part of this work has been to support London Capital Credit Union, as an accessible and affordable way for people to deal with their finances.

“I am very pleased to be supporting this organisation and the excellent work it does in Islington.”

Islington Council supported London Capital Credit Union with a one-off grant of £250,000 and provides annual revenue support funding of £25,000.

Martin Groombridge, Chief Executive of London Capital Credit Union, said: “Credit unions are an ethical alternative to banks and other high street lenders and their way of working is designed to benefit all members.

“We are always pleased to be able to share our knowledge with others around the world and we enjoyed meeting the delegation from Singapore and welcoming them to London, and to Islington in particular.”

Credit unions in Britain have been growing consistently over the past few years as they become better known and they now have almost 1.3 million members across the country.

Added Martin Groombridge: “Over the last ten years, London Capital Credit Union has seen a huge 1,400% increase in members’ savings from £436,000 to over £6 million. And as a co-operative, we are proud that London Capital Credit Union is owned and controlled by its members – not outside shareholders.”

Find out more at www.credit-union.coop.

Haringey resident says join your credit union to support your community

A member of London Capital Credit Union is calling on Haringey residents to join their local credit union to help strengthen the local community.

Sue Hoyle“Unlike high street banks, credit unions are owned by local people and work for their best interests,” says Sue Hoyle.

Sue, a former care worker, has been a member of London Capital Credit Union for 20 years and says that credit unions are such a good idea that more people should know about them.

“I believe passionately in our local community and debt is a serious issue for many people. Credit unions can be part of the solution as they keep more of the money in the local community with local people.”

Credit unions work by offering loans on affordable terms to local members and the interest raised is then made available to lend to more people locally.

“I joined London Capital Credit Union to get a loan and thanks to the way the loan was structured, I was saving at the same time as paying the loan back.”

Encouraging saving and greater financial awareness is key to the way credit unions work. Says Sue, “I had a 0% transfer credit card some years back and paid back the minimum balance by standing order each month, but basically it was like giving them money for nothing as I was mainly paying off interest, so I used my credit union loan to pay off the credit card.”

Over the years Sue says she has saved a fair amount of interest by using the credit union and has used the savings to pay for car repairs and even a holiday.

“I am just one person,” says Sue, “but, across Haringey, local people have saved over £2.9 million in loan repayments by being members of the credit union. That’s something to shout about.”

London Mutual Credit Union opens state-of-the-art branch in Southwark

Tom WatTom Watson MP opens the new branchson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, was the guest of honour at the opening of a new credit union branch in Walworth Road, Southwark, on Thursday 3rd March.

The new London Mutual Credit Union branch is equipped with its own ATM service, five spacious counters and an iPad stand where members can join the credit union, apply for low cost loans and carry out other online transactions.

Located in a busy high street, close to public transport links, the new credit union branch offers local people easy access to fair and affordable financial services.

Tom Watson MP said: “I am delighted to attend the opening of this impressive new London Mutual Credit Union branch in Southwark. Credit unions have a vital role to play in providing great value loans and savings to those who may otherwise be excluded from mainstream financial services.

“Located in the heart of the communities they serve, credit unions are ideally placed not only to provide access to ethical finance, but also to help people manage their money better, keeping them out of the clutches of loan sharks and high interest payday lenders.”

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Financial Inclusion at Southwark Council, said: “This new service will be a brilliant alternative to payday lenders for local people, and is a great example of the community, the council and the credit union working together to bring about important local support that people want and need.”

Lucky Chandrasekera, Chief Executive of London Mutual Credit Union, added: “We are very happy to open this modern and spacious credit union branch for our members. The new premises provide London Mutual Credit Union with the additional facilities we need to handle the requirements of our ever growing membership and we look forward to welcoming existing and new members.”

A credit union is a financial co-operative which provides savings, loans and a range of services to its members. Credit unions share the co-operative ethos of people helping people, and because they are owned by their own users, and not by external shareholders or investors, the emphasis is always on providing the best service to members, not maximising profits from them.

The new branch of London Mutual Credit Union is at 177 Walworth Road, Southwark SE17 1RW.

To find out more about London Mutual Credit Union and to join, go to www.creditunion.co.uk.