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.
This programme aims to generate awareness and support for credit unions as socially responsible lenders, which are accountable to the communities in which they are based, and so able to increase financial inclusion while operating as sustainable businesses. Specifically, the programme will explore how credit unions can increase membership sustainably by better understanding the needs of their members, providing information, guidance and advice and developing relevant product solutions. In addition, it will consider how credit unions might better manage financial and operational risk, and address the questions of governance, so that they remain accountable to their members and the communities in which they are based, while providing high quality financial services.