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Ministers visit 1st Class Credit Union as part of their “Financial Inclusion” day


07 Sep 18

Last week saw the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, and the Minister for Pensions & Financial Inclusion, Guy Opperman MP, visit 1st Class Credit Union in Glasgow. Their visit to Glasgow was part of their “financial inclusion” day, visiting a debt advice centre in Govan and the CDFI lender Scotcash as well as 1st Class Credit Union.

Both Ministers were treated to a demonstration of 1st Class Credit Union’s operational arrangements including chatting with staff and looking at new tech developments powered by credit union supplier, Incuto. There was also an opportunity to chat to two members of staff from 1st Class Credit Union, whom in the past dealt with financial difficulties and were supported by the credit union.

ABCUL’s Head of Policy & Communications, Matt Bland spent time with both Ministers to speak about some of the sectors key policy asks of Government and Regulators including reforms to the Credit Unions Act, partnerships with employers and further support from the Government to improve its financial inclusion. Speaking to both Ministers, Matt said: “These laws were created in the 1970s and while there have been various bits of reform it’s still not very clear and could be improved so credit unions can do more.

“There are certain kinds of loan agreements that the regulator thinks the law doesn’t allow. We’d also like to be able to service other types of groups and provide other products”.

CEO of 1st Class Credit Union, Andy Wright believes that the Government should be encouraging a larger number of employers to set up or provide payroll access to credit unions for the benefit of their employees. Andy said: “It’s about an employee benefit, should employers be interested in the financial wellbeing of their employees? Yes, but they look after things like health and safety but don’t tend to think about that”.

Despite proven results by Citi Foundation stating that 70% of employees who take advantage of credit union partnerships feel more financially capable there is still a large section of the population that relies on high-cost credit providers.

John Glen MP noted that the Government is keen “to look at what can be done in this domain” for better options of affordable credit.

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