Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to look into ways of increasing the uptake of credit union membership in rural and island communities.
During a debate in parliament this afternoon on Credit Unions, Mr McArthur welcomed the establishment of a Credit Union Investment Fund and Government Strategy but urged the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell, to look at how these might be used to help to encourage greater engagement with credit unions in rural and island areas, where uptake has traditionally been lower.
In response, Ms Campbell agreed that the needs of rural and island communities need to be factored into the strategy as it continues to take shape and that she was willing to work with colleagues from across the chamber to make this happen.
Following the debate, Mr McArthur commented:
“Credit unions deliver many benefits, not least by helping people to save and pay off loans in an affordable way. They can also help build resilience within communities.
“These benefits have led to a growth in credit union membership across Scotland, which now stands at over 430,000. Despite that, there seems to have been a much lower take up in rural and island areas.
“I have been a member of the Hi-Scot credit union, which originated in the Western Isles, but now offers services across the Highlands & Islands. The service Hi-Scot provides is excellent, but clearly there is considerable scope for growth, not just in Orkney but across the region.
“The new Credit Union Investment Fund and government strategy provide a perfect opportunity to look at how access to credit unions can be expanded.
“I welcome the Minister’s commitment on this issue and look forward to working with her on ways of ensuring that, in future, more islanders benefit from what credit unions have to offer”.