The Government has taken significant steps to help credit unions compete in the personal loans and savings market. These include increasing the maximum interest rate that credit unions can charge on loans from 2% to 3% per month; investing £38m in the sector through the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Credit Union Expansion Project; ensuring that universal credit and pensions payments can be paid into any credit union account; providing £500,000 to help armed forces personnel access credit union services; and changing legislation to allow credit unions to admit corporate members.
The Government has also provided £650,000 to fund the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘LifeSavers’ project. This project forms partnerships between primary schools and local credit unions, raising awareness of the credit union movement and encouraging more junior savers to become members.
In addition the Government has also introduced an amendment to the Bank of England Bill 2015 to support financial mutuals. It amends the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority’s General Regulatory Principles to ensure that both regulators take account of the differences between mutual societies and other types of firm (where appropriate) whenever they are discharging their general objectives.