On 11th April 2016, Lord Holmes of Richmond asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are intending to take to address the issue of the unbanked and underbanked in the United Kingdom.” Lord Ashton of Hyde responded. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, will the Minister comment on the place and role of credit unions in this whole purpose? The churches and many others see them as a vital part of bringing people into financial services. For me, in the north-east, I see that many people will still not go near a bank, but they will go to local community credit unions. Will the Government commit to further supporting that work?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: The right reverend Prelate puts his finger on an important issue. The Government are improving access to credit, most notably by supporting the credit union sector. We have invested £38 million in that sector through the credit union expansion project. We have provided half a billion pounds to help Armed Forces personnel access credit union services. We have raised the maximum interest rate that credit unions can charge, so that they can operate more sustainably, and we have provided £650,000 to fund the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Affordable Credit and Savings.