Plaid AM urges Welsh Government to help spread the benefits of credit unions
Plaid Cymru South Wales East AM Lindsay Whittle has urged the Welsh Government to do much more to promote the development of credit unions to avoid people falling victim to loan sharks.
In a question to the First Minister, Mr Whittle, who is Plaid’s equalities spokesman, asked what progress was being made to help boost number of credit unions which offer low interest loans to people, many of whom might turn to pay day loans.
The South Wales East AM, who is a member of the British Irish Council inquiry into credit unions, said that Wales was the poor relation in the UK with just 1.8% of people in credit unions.
That compares to 5% in Scotland, and 20% in Glasgow. It is nearly 60% in Ireland and there is £16bn Euros available within credit unions for investment in Ireland.
He said: “There are 22 credit unions in Wales but only three in the most disadvantaged area, the South Wales Valleys. Based on the Welsh figures based on their population Ireland would have 50 credit unions but, in fact, has 487. Scotland has 129. During the One Wales Government, a credit union action plan was formed but the current plan is to increase members to only 6%.
“It could be argued that people in Wales on low incomes or on benefits cannot afford to save as members. But on the other hand they are being ripped off by loan sharks and pay day loan companies charging exorbitant interest rates. If Ireland can attract such a huge credit union membership we need to learn from them.
“A real campaign has to be sustained over a period of time with a budget earmarked to ensure that credit unions are expanded.”
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