Conclusion and recommendations
173. The various next steps will now be brought together to detail what various parties can do to create an enabling environment for credit unions.
What can credit unions do?
174. Payroll deduction schemes were highlighted by the trade bodies in Scotland as worthy of encouragement, in their responses to HM Treasury's Call for Evidence in 2014. Credit unions should make the business case to potential employer partners for the benefits of offering payroll deduction schemes, and resources will be made available by Scottish Government for them to use.
175. For the sector to thrive in the future, it is important that there is a willingness to engage with the younger digital generation. Marketing and training budgets must be identified to reach out to young people via social media, through technological partnerships with schools and to be able to take on young volunteers.
176. When setting up a junior savers scheme with schools, credit unions could emphasise the importance of succession planning to the school partners, and indeed cover this from the credit union's perspective as well. The uptake of apps that facilitate communication with the school can also ease engagement with young people, although are again dependant on a supportive staff partner to oversee from the school's end.
177. Credit unions can continue to share best practice and resources related to junior saver schemes with each other through their trade bodies or partners. Successful primary to secondary school schemes are of particular interest, from the point of view of maintaining healthy financial habits into the future.
178. Students represent a large market of young potential credit union savers. A wealth of opportunities are available to engage with them, whether through their dedicated print and online media, in the field at student events, or via social media. It would be worth credit unions allocating part of their marketing budgets to this sector.
179. Credit unions and money advice services should strengthen links, to help create a joined up approach to increasing financial capability in the community.
180. Credit unions should continue the good practice of governance checks and training to maintain the health of their organisations.
What can Scottish Government and local authorities do?
181. Scottish Government values the credit union sector as responsible lenders and for their contribution to the promotion of financial capability.
182. In recognition of their importance, the First Minister has personally advocated for employers to offer payroll deduction saving to credit unions as a standard workplace benefit.
183. Scottish Government will work with credit union representatives and the Chartered Institute for Payroll Professionals to develop a pack for use by those credit unions who wish to offer a payroll deduction scheme. The pack will include First Minister's letter and information about data transfer and marketing.
184. Scottish Government will explore with Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise the promotion of payroll deduction schemes with credit unions to their networks.
185. Scottish Government's Business Pledge, as part of a business's workforce engagement commitments, recommends payroll deduction schemes are offered as a standard workplace benefit.
186. The Scottish Government-funded Financial Capability Team, delivered by Money Advice Scotland has also undertaken to promote payroll deduction schemes to employers in their outreach visits.
187. Scottish Government and its Working Group partners will investigate how the development of junior saver schemes might be funded.
188. Education Scotland could consider Glasgow City Council's evaluation of their Future Savers initiative. Following this and evaluations of any other schemes undertaken, successful initiatives will continue to be highlighted by Education Scotland and Scottish Financial Education Forum partners to those who direct priorities in the delivery of the curriculum in each school; the Association of Directors of Education and the Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland. Those schemes which have successfully navigated the transition of savers from primary to secondary school are of particular interest.
189. The profile of financial education in Scotland's schools will be raised again in 2016, with a review of the quality and quantity of materials available, ensuring they remain relevant and accessible. Work is underway to promote knowledge and understanding through progression in numeracy through the National Numeracy Network and Scottish Financial Education Forum. Financial education could be co-ordinated throughout the Scottish Government's National Improvement Framework, the Developing the Young Workforce strategy and the Making Maths Count programme.
190. The online platform for learning professionals, Glow, will be a means for collaboration in delivering financial education through teacher-produced resources, although Education Scotland's online service will remain a key source of information.
191. Education Scotland could share key learning from its evaluation of a successful themed event at St Catherine's Primary School in Glasgow in 2015, which highlighted the need for preparation time, senior management buy-in and links to teachers' professional development in the success of the event. Along with evaluations of previous school Money Weeks, this may help in the design of future such initiatives in which credit unions could be involved as a delivery partner. The key learning could also be applicable to junior savers schemes.
192. A national conference on financial education is being explored, in which credit unions may feature, and which would allow the Scottish Financial Education Forum to share their learning around financial education approaches with a wider audience.
193. The Scottish Government funded Money Advice Scotland Financial Capability Team will promote credit unions as ethical lenders in their school workshops.
What can schools do?
194. On committing to the delivery of a junior saver scheme with a credit union partner, schools can ensure the success of the initiative by allocating sufficient resource at the beginning, whether a teacher, classroom assistant, administrative staff member, or secondary school pupil team, including time for pre-delivery preparation. Before entering into the scheme, adequate succession planning should be completed by both school and credit union, in order to maintain consistency of collections in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
195. The junior saver scheme should be formally linked into the school's Improvement Plan and ideally into teachers' professional learning as a part of learning for sustainability.
196. Teachers can collaborate in the production of updated guidance and resources for working with credit unions and share this through platforms such as Glow.
197. Credit union junior saver schemes are a great way for teachers to assist pupils to develop numeracy skills in a real life context, for example saving up for a school trip.
What can employers do?
198. All employers are encouraged by Scottish Government to offer payroll deduction saving schemes to their workforce as a standard benefit.
199. These should be highlighted in an employer's induction process where applicable. Credit unions report difficulties trying to maintain communication with employers, and to work with them in employee awareness raising of payroll schemes; Scottish Government therefore encourages greater engagement of employers with credit unions in this regard.
200. Through collaborative working between Scottish Government, representatives of the credit union sector in Scotland and key partner organisations, the Working Group has identified a number of areas for action to work towards securing a sustainable credit union sector, and consolidated valuable working relationships.
201. The Group draws to a close at a time when financial capability is high on the agenda, with the January 2016 launch of the Scotland Financial Capability Strategy. Linking the credit union agenda identified in this Working Group Report into the wider national focus on financial capability will extend the credit union sector's reach and provide more consumers with a responsible financial services provider.
202. Scottish Government is committed to continuing to play an active role with stakeholders and other partners to take forward the recommendations contained within this report.
Email: Nadia Bessos