Dumfries and Galloway Council Supports Credit Union Development

Protecting our most vulnerable residents is a key priority for Dumfries and Galloway Council. In the current challenging financial climate we believe that with the right assistance people can be empowered to help themselves change their situations. One way The Council believes they can do this is by managing their finances through the Credit Union movement.

Credit Unions are financial institutions formed by an organised group of people with a common bond providing members with flexible savings, loans and a range of other financial services. Credit unions differ from banks in several ways which allows them to pay dividends to their members and offer low cost loans with no service fees. There are 2 credit unions based in Dumfries and Galloway: one in Dumfries and one in Stranraer.

Dumfries and Galloway Council have now ensured the Credit Union’s development over the next three years by confirming an allocation of £105k. This was agreed by Council Members at Welfare Reform Sub Committee on 8th October and will be allocated over a three year period. This is in tandem to the additional funding from the Development Project partnership; with £19,000, already confirmed through the Council’s External Funding Unit Grant.

It is anticipated that the Credit Union’s capacity and resilience will increase over the next three years, along with an increase in membership and products. This will enable the movement to operate without the need for additional development support at the end of this period

The Credit Union Development Project, which was established in 2013 as a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council, DGHP and Loreburn Housing Association, has been an effective way of increasing awareness of the Credit Union movement.  It has increased the capacity of Credit Unions in Dumfries and Galloway to offer better and wider-ranging services to households and communities.

Although there have been great achievements over the past two years, there is still much to do. With the advent of Universal Credit and wider poverty issues facing the region, The Council believes it is imperative that the Credit Union movement is given every support to assist in mitigating the effects of poverty and debt within our communities. The promotion of Credit Unions is a specific action within the Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy and we will do this most successfully through continued partnership working and engagement.

With a range of accounts, savings schemes and low cost loans to suit all, membership of the Solway Credit Union has already increased by over 26% since the start of the project. 

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson recently paid a visit to the Solway Credit Union in Dumfries to see for himself what the Credit Unions are offering.

Councillor Nicholson said: “I am delighted to be visiting the Solway Credit Union today and to see that the Council’s on-going investment in our local Credit Unions is being put to such good use. We will continue working with our Partners to help people make the right financial decisions for their situation. By supporting Credit Unions we are committing to tackling the causes and effects of inequality and severe hardship by helping people to manage their finances in this difficult financial climate.”

“This is just one strand of the ongoing work we are carrying out to tackle severe hardship in the Region, not just this week, which is Challenge Poverty Week, but for long as it takes.  By encouraging people to save and manage their money effectively we will empower our communities to make the most of their assets and therefore increase their opportunities.”

On the back of Councillor Nicholson`s visit, Donald Thomson, Regional Development Officer (Credit Unions) and Solway Credit Union`s Project Worker said: “I am extremely pleased with the progress we are making in developing local credit unions, which would not have been possible without the continued support from the Credit Union Development Project partners – namely The Council, DGHP and Loreburn Housing Association. Much time has been spent in expanding the admin capacity, infrastructure and product range so that we are now reaching a point where we can really start to swell the membership numbers. Added size and strength will mean that the credit unions are able to help even more people by providing a safe home for savings, a source of affordable credit, and support with budgeting for those on Universal Credit. “

If you would like to find out more or join your local credit union, for people who live or work in Nithsdale, the Stewartry or Annandale and Eskdale please contact:

Solway Credit Union, The Hub, 24-26 Friars Vennel, Dumfries DG1 2RL or visit www.solwaycreditunion.co.uk

For those living or working in Wigtownshire, please contact:

Stranraer Credit Union, 25 Hanover Square, Stranraer DG9 7AG or visit www.stranraercreditunion.co.uk