Churches: Credit Unions

Church Commissioners written question – answered on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker Conservative, Worcester

To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, how many credit unions have approached churches or church organisations as a result of the Archbishop of Canterbury's #TOYOURCREDIT initiative.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Churches across England have responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call to support credit unions and other forms of responsible credit and savings. At least 31 out of 40 dioceses have been actively involved in supporting over 50 credit unions in various ways, such as:

  • promoting the local credit union in their congregation and wider community
  • recruiting credit union volunteers
  • hosting training sessions
  • opening church premises as credit union access points
  • encouraging payroll savings schemes among local employers
  • helping to set up school savings clubs

Through the Church Credit Champions Network, one of the core initiatives of the Archbishop’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings, the pilot scheme has engaged over 350 churches in London and Liverpool alone and trained more than 260 Credit Champions to date. Other creative diocesan responses include the Murston Community Bank in Canterbury diocese, Lichfield’s Funeral Project, Southwell & Nottingham’s 100x100 scheme are all designed to raise local awareness of credit unions.

The other core initiative, the LifeSavers programme, is working with eight credit unions across the country to set up savings clubs in primary schools, alongside an integrated programme of financial education. Following a successful pilot, the programme is being rolled out to 120 church and non-church primary schools over the next three academic years with financial support from Virgin Money. Additional funding from Government will help extend the coverage to many more primary schools through a dedicated LifeSavers website.

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