Financial exclusion and tackling poverty, specifically child poverty, have been key political issues since 1997 and the importance of credit unions in dealing with these issues has been a regular theme of government.
This research examines specific projects currently run by unions in Wales. It argues a particular approach to credit union growth has already been developed which relies on expanding the range of services to those sections of the community whose financial circumstances are less comfortable and, therefore, less attractive to the profit-making financial services sector. A productive future for Welsh credit unions lies, therefore, in concentrating upon those potential members whom banks and building societies have neither the desire nor ability to serve, rather than in competing with mainstream financial services, and in a new emphasis on retaining those members, once recruited.
Two main motivations underpin such a diversification strategy in Wales: (i) a wish to bring the benefits of union membership to as many people as possible; and (ii) the necessity of achieving financial stability and sustainability for unions themselves. The challenge for the future lies in retaining the essential character of the movement, while doing more to expand its membership and public awareness. We conclude that there is ample evidence showing that the commitment to core credit union values remains within the diversifying unions who regularly cite ‘provident purposes’ of union activity
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