Making a difference: credit unions

‘I feel credit unions are one of the better examples of co-operation … It’s people helping people.’

Throughout Co-operatives Fortnight 2018, we’re sharing some of the brilliant stories from UK and international co-ops which show the  in action: how, where and why co-operatives can make a difference to you and your communities. 

Q&A with Andrew Davey: Operations manager, Co-operative Credit Union

How do co-operatives make a difference through credit unions?

I feel credit unions are one of the better examples of co-operation: we encourage members to save. Without these savers, we would not have funds to lend to those who have a borrowing requirement. Those who have a borrowing requirement can apply for a loan and receive a competitive rate of interest. All loans are subject to approval, they are reviewed on an individual basis with the credit union ensuring the repayments are affordable for the member.

Any surplus made by the credit union is returned to its members in the form of a dividend (apart from any regulatory requirements we have to strengthen the reserves of the credit union). Occasionally the board of directors may choose to transfer more than the regulatory minimum to reserves to strengthen the business for the future. This is all agreed by the members present at the annual AGM.

The board of directors are all volunteers and they are approved by the members present at the annual AGM. We have several relationships with other co-operatives and in turn we promote their products and services. It’s people helping people.

Below is a recent video we have had produced. I agree with [Co-operative Group Members’ Council president] Nick Crofts, who says that credit unions have the co-operative difference in their heart and in their core.

What is your favourite example of this?

Approximately five years ago, we started to work with and promote Co-op Energy. Credit unions members and their family and friends could use a link on our website to compare the costs they are paying for energy prices. Not only did this highlight the work of the credit union to others, but we also managed to save our members and their families over £10,000 on the cost of their energy bills.

How can we find out more?

For more details about the credit union visit

Like all credit unions, we are governed by a common bond, so only those listed within our common bond can become members. It includes the employees and members of many of the UK’s co-operatives. If there is enough demand, we can request further additions to the common bond by seeking approval from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Our current bond includes many retail societies (Co-op Group, Southern, Midcounties, Radstock, Heart of England, Tamworth, Channel Islands, East of England, Central England, Lincolnshire), as well as Abcul, Co-operatives UK, Co-operative Academy, Co-operative College, Unity Trust Bank, Co-operative Bank, the Phone Co-op, Naco (now part of Usdaw), the Co-operative Academies Trust, the Co-operative Party, Charities Aid Foundation, FC United of Manchester, Co-operative News, Woodcraft Folk, Suma and Unicorn.

We would also like to welcome our newest member, Steve Murrells, CEO of the Co-op Group, who joined during Co-operatives Fortnight.