Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children
I am providing this Written Statement to set out Welsh Government’s continued support for the credit union sector.
I will provide support of up to £422,334 to credit unions during 2017-18 to help deliver commitments set out in our Financial Inclusion Strategy.
Welsh Government has supported credit unions with significant sums of money. This investment has been made with the aim of supporting the most financially excluded members of society to access affordable financial services. This is still our aim as reflected in our Financial Inclusion Strategy.
The current three year credit union project has seen funding tapering from £900,000 in 2014-15 to £422,334 in 2016-17. This gradual reduction in funding has helped credit unions to focus on meeting their sustainability challenges, which they all recognise they must do.
It was encouraging to see a Credit Union Strategy published in March 2016, developed by credit unions themselves, which demonstrated a collective sense of purpose. It is imperative that credit unions continue to work to support each other by sharing best practice.
In addition to directly supporting the Financial Inclusion Delivery Plan, Welsh Government funding will also help credit unions to work towards the aims in their strategy which include securing long-term, independent sustainability for the sector in Wales; supporting the growth of membership across Wales; and promoting effective co-operation and joint working between Welsh credit unions.
In order to achieve a sustainable Welsh credit union movement, I want to see relationships built with a focus on attracting private sector membership through payroll deduction programmes. I have recently written to a number of large private sector companies to endorse credit unions and highlight the benefits of membership for employees.
Over the coming months, plans for maximising the impact of next year’s credit union funding will be further developed in collaboration with the credit union movement. Credit unions must step up and demonstrate how next year’s funding will contribute to achieving full sustainability, whilst delivering against our Financial Inclusion commitments. Welsh Government remains fully supportive of credit unions, but public funding of them must have more impact and lead to a sustainable model which delivers positive change across our communities.