British Credit Union Historical Society

            Promoting Unity-Preserving the Past-Educating the Present-Enriching the Future


The first enduring credit unions in Scotland were founded in Drumchapel and Bellshill in the 1960's, thanks to the vision of pioneers of the Scottish movement, Bert Mullen and Bill Murphy.

Scotland has 106 credit unions currently in GB there has been significant trade association fragmentation over the years as a consequence of different viewpoints on how credit unions should develop. At present in Scotland there are two main trade associations the Scottish League of Credit Unions (SLCU) with 32 member credit unions. The Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) with approximately 60 member credit unions and at least 15 independent of any league. SLCU only has members in Scotland while ABCUL has members throughout GB. Both ABCUL and the SLCU are currently pursuing a number of initiatives to develop member credit unions. ABCUL is presently piloting, with 9 member credit unions, a transaction account. The Cooperative Bank is the banking partner and since 2006 members in the pilot credit unions can have a current account and can withdraw cash at any ATM in the LINK network, use direct debits and standing orders to pay household bills and use a VISA debit card. ABCUL has also been instrumental in introducing a self-monitoring mechanism for member credit unions. Barclays Bank has supported this framework.

The Scottish League of Credit Unions is currently shifting towards a federated network structure similar to that of the Desjardins Movement in Canada. At the moment it has initiated a ‘linked account’ with Unity Bank whereby interest is paid on the aggregate amount of the funds of all participating credit unions rather than that based on individual credit unions. At various stages of development are the introductions of pre-paid debit cards, which will provide members with access to ATMs and permit Internet based purchasing and in-store electronic payments. Standardized computer software. Paid professional staff can administer a central server arrangement that will allow the development of a common back office that the development of hubs whereby several credit unions can work more closely together sharing resources and permitting some economies of scale. In 2015 now serving 7% of the population, Scotland’s credit unions rank fourth in Europe behind only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland in terms of market penetration. In the city of Glasgow, around a quarter of the population save with a credit union.

2015 In Scotland, just over 100 credit unions serve 375,000 people – including 52,000 junior savers – who are saving £454 million and borrowing £276 million. Serving 7% of the population, Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe, after only the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland.

The Scottish Credit Union Charter

We call on all Members elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 to help make Scotland a Credit Union Nation by:

  • Encouraging all employers to partner with credit unions to make saving and repaying loans via payroll deduction a standard workplace benefit for people across Scotland

  • Improving financial health by encouraging regular saving and responsible borrowing

  • Establishing a credit union champion in every primary and secondary school across Scotland who will lead that school’s partnership with a local credit union and facilitate pupils’ involvement

  • Advocating the teaching of credit union and co-operative models in schools, colleges and universities

  • Supporting the capacity of credit unions to provide an ethical alternative as part of a sustainable, responsible financial services sector

  • Promoting credit unions as providers of affordable credit for people from all walks of life.

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Latest comments

18.08 | 14:55

I am very proud to be a part of the credit union and the ethos of people helping people.

Congratulations to No1 CopperPot.

14.07 | 04:57

A very inspiring and educational experience. It awaken my interest to serve the community.

01.07 | 13:06

As schools Development Worker for Unify Credit Union, I found the schools project resources very useful.... some really good ideas, Thank you x

23.11 | 16:41
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