Credit unions in Scotland are typically small-scale, cooperative businesses, which operate within specific communities. Most credit unions are reliant upon volunteer directors, and offer a small range of products, so that membership and asset growth has been fairly limited to date.

There is a widely perceived need to codify and disseminate knowledge among credit union professionals, other stakeholders, including local authorities and housing associations, and the academic community. Recent work coordinated by the Church of Scotland highlights the potential for increased cooperation among credit unions and sharing of good practice across the sector.

The programme aimed to bring together a broad range of credit union stakeholders to develop pathways for robust, sustainable growth of Scottish credit unions. It drew on the academic knowledge base and the expertise of credit union professionals and other stakeholders from Britain and overseas, distilling these insights into proposals for richer engagement between credit unions and outside bodies.

The programme was designed to make a substantial contribution to Scottish credit unions’ efforts to address these limitations, concentrating on three areas:

  • the development of insights into improved credit union governance, so that they might remain accountable to their members and the communities in which they are based, while providing high quality financial services;
  • the identification of how credit unions might add value to the membership experience, especially through their statutory obligation to provide some form of financial education to members;
  • identification of the ways in which small scale, lack of access to capital, and limited ability to diversify risk, all combine to constrict growth; and new models of cooperation among credit unions.

Programme Team

Robert Mochrie, Heriot Watt University
Alasdair Rutherford, University of Stirling
Kathryn Waite, Heriot Watt University
Tina Harrison, University of Edinburgh
Edward Percy, Glasgow City Council
David Hunter, Scottish Government (seconded to Church of Scotland)vggfb

Final Report