1. This report outlines the findings of the Credit Union Working Group, established in October 2014 and chaired by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism.
2. The Working Group was set up to consider how to best promote the credit union sector in Scotland, in recognition of their ethical lending practices and contribution to developing financial capability.
3. Although the Group considered a number of areas for development, two key themes for action emerged. These were: payroll deduction schemes; and financial education, including junior saver schemes run by credit unions in partnership with schools.
4. The report brings together the findings of the Group regarding the current picture of activity in each of the themes as well as other areas of work, and offers recommendations for future action.
5. There are recommendations for credit unions, Government and local authorities, schools and employers:
- Offer payroll deduction schemes to local employers, highlighting why these schemes are good for the employer and employee, and easy to set up and run;
- Identify marketing and training budgets to reach out to young people via social media, through technological partnerships with schools and taking on young volunteers;
- Emphasise the importance of succession planning to school partners in junior savers schemes;
- Share best practice in the delivery of junior saver schemes via credit union trade bodies or representatives;
- Engage with the student sector through its various dedicated media channels and social media;
- Collaborate with local money advice services to ensure a joined up approach to improving financial capability in the community;
- Continue to undertake governance checks and training as standard good practice.
Scottish Government and local authorities
- First Minister has personally advocated that employers offer workplace deduction schemes and has provided a letter for credit unions to use;
- Scottish Government will contribute to ensuring that setting up payroll deduction schemes is a smooth process for all parties by developing a pack for credit unions to use when engaging with employers; this will include a letter from the First Minister;
- The Scottish Business Pledge includes a recommendation to employers under their workforce engagement commitments to offer payroll deduction savings as a standard workplace benefit;
- The Scottish Government will explore with Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise the promotion of payroll deduction schemes to their networks;
- The Scottish Government funded Financial Capability Team, delivered by Money Advice Scotland will promote payroll deduction schemes to employers in their reach out visits;
- The Capability Team will also showcase credit unions as ethical lenders when delivering workshops in schools;
- The Scottish Government will investigate with Working Group partners how funding might be identified for the development of junior saver schemes;
- School leaders are responsible for the day-to-day management and delivery of all aspects of the school curriculum. Education Scotland will continue to highlight to school leaders the benefits of embedding financial capability as a key element in the delivery of numeracy and social studies, from early years to the end of the broad general education (age 3-15);
- The profile of financial education to be raised again in 2016, and co-ordinated across Scotland's National Improvement Framework and Developing the Young Workforce Agenda. The improvements in attainment that are anticipated from the work around the National Improvement Framework could also have an impact on the financial capability of our young people;
- Credit unions could be involved as delivery partners for school Money Weeks and involved in a future national conference on financial education.
- Partner with a local credit union in a junior saver scheme, to teach aspects of numeracy and social studies in a real life context;
- Ensure the success of a junior savers initiative by considering the allocation of sufficient resource in staff time for preparation and delivery and in succession planning, to maintain consistency of collections;
- Link in junior savers initiatives to teachers' professional learning and the school's Improvement Plan;
- Teachers can collaborate in the production of updated guidance and resources for working with credit unions and share this through platforms such as Glow.
- Offer payroll deduction schemes to staff as a standard workplace benefit and highlight in induction packs;
- Once such schemes are in place, keep in communication with credit unions to allow periodic awareness raising.
6. By implementing the recommendations in this report, it is hoped that Scotland will prove to be an enabling environment for credit unions.
Email: Nadia Bessos