Government pledges £73m credit union investmentPost Office could play central credit union role

04 March 2011

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Credit unions offer community-based loans and savings accounts and can be an excellent alternative to the big banks

The Government has announced that it plans to invest up to £73 million in credit unions over the next four years, and that the Post Office could play a central role in delivering credit union services.

Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of the Association of British Credit Unions (Abcul), welcomed the announcement: 'We are delighted to learn that the government is going to make up to £73 million available to continue the expansion and modernisation of credit unions over the next four years.

'Credit unions have achieved great things in recent years working with the support of the Department for Work and Pensions through the previous Growth Fund, so we are especially pleased to learn today that new funding is being made available.

'Credit unions have shown they can provide the financial products and services that people on lower incomes need – and want – but often struggle to get elsewhere. By linking up with the Post Office, credit unions will be able to reach many more families, making access to credit union services – such as bank accounts, bill payments, safe savings and low cost credit – that much easier.'

Welcome support for vital credit union service

Which? Principal Researcher Martyn Saville added: 'Britain’s 450 credit unions provide a fantastic service, allowing people in a local community, workplace or other organisation to save and borrow money. With no outside shareholders to pay, any profit a credit union makes is used to develop the credit union and provide a return to savers.

'Borrowers, meanwhile, can access affordable loans without the heavy-handed tactics and sky-high interest rates imposed by doorstep lenders and loan sharks. Any move to widen the accessibility and awareness of credit unions is to be welcomed.'

For more information on finding your local credit union and how they work, read the Which? guide to saving and borrowing with a credit union.

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