Since offering their services to armed forces personnel, UK credit unions have lent more than £2m to over 1,600 soldiers, sailors and airmen and women. The programme was launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Defence with funding from the Treasury. The initiative is enabling the armed forces personnel to gain access to simple savings and affordable loans through a payroll deduction scheme.
The three credit unions involved are Plane Saver, Police Credit Union (under its Serve & Protect trading name) and London Mutual Credit Union. Their services are promoted through a shared online and social media platform – Joining Forces.
The services are particularly aimed at junior service personnel who may encounter difficulties building good credit ratings due to having to move regularly as part of their job.
This month representatives from the three credit unions met with Mark Lancaster MP, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence veterans, reserves and personnel. During the meeting at Whitehall, Mr Lancaster explored the credit unions’ plans for the future, including plans to redouble efforts to raise awareness about the services on offer.
Chief executive of the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL), Mark Lyonette, also attended the meeting. He commented: “We were delighted to meet with the minister and to update him on the progress with Joining Forces. Evidence to date shows the clear need among forces personnel for fair and affordable credit facilities, and the benefit of payroll deduction makes managing repayments simple and easy so that forces members can focus on their vital and demanding work.
“On active service, much of the financial side of life is taken care of – which can lead to problems upon leaving service. Interventions like the credit union Save as you Borrow model recently reported on by the Fairbanking Foundation are particularly beneficial in this context. We look forward to supporting the three credit unions and the Ministry of Defence in building on this promising start.”