I went to the launch a a new branch of the Capital Credit Union on Saturday 19th July. This exciting project between the Methodist Church in Edinburgh marks another confident step for this great Edinburgh success story in ethical lending.
There has been increasing awareness of the issues the banks have faced in recent years and the problems caused by the upsurge in “Pay Day Loan” firms. As pressure on wages has increased through the down turn, people have been increasingly turning to lenders who charge huge rates of interest and seem to have little consideration with regard to affordability and sustainability of the loans they are providing.
It was, therefore a breath of fresh air to hear Donal Urquart, chair of the Capital Credit Union, talk about the alternative that Credit Unions can provide. Their mission is to provide sustainable finance, requiring people to save as if they intend to borrow. He spoke with passion about the need to ensure that social justice should be at the heart of financial services institutions. In his view, and one that I agree with, is that the cooperative model on which credit unions are based holds the solutions for achieving this.
Credit unions are cooperatives owned by their members. Rather than maximising profit in the interest of their shareholders, they operate to ensure that their members save and borrow in a balanced and sustainable manner. Capital Credit Union was founded in 1989 and has grown to become one of the UK’s largest with over 19,000 members and over £20m of assets. As we get to grips with the cost of living crisis and issues caused by personal debt, the work of credit unions like the Capital Credit Union have a vital an important role.
I left the meeting feeling very inspired and look forward and thinking about other possible partnerships and projects that could be inspired by this one.