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August 10, 2011

As the country drowns in debt…

Personal debt in Scotland has risen by 50% since 2009. Last year 200,000 Scots took out payday loans – exorbitant interest rates casting many into a vicious debt cycle. Over 40% of CAB debt clients have gone without food or fuel to meet the cost of debt repayment. Last month saw Glasgow host the World Credit Union Conference – 1400 delegates from 50 countries – a timely reminder of the crucial role these organisations play. Gordon Brown acclaims their contribution


Gordon Brown has praised credit unions for their work to tackle inequality and called on them to set the agenda for the financial system based on the principles of fairness and responsibility. 

The former Prime Minister was speaking at the World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow to an audience of 1400 people from over 50 countries.

Gordon Brown said:  “We have seen the biggest financial crisis of our history which was caused by the banks forgetting the basic values of fairness and responsibility which we all adhere to as a matter of course in our personal and professional lives.  Credit unions, which have already seen fantastic growth in recent years, are faced with enormous opportunities because they are based on fundamental values of fairness and responsibility… 

“We should build the financial system of the future based on principles of fairness and responsibility that have always been at the heart of the credit union movement.  So there is a big agenda ahead and, from Glasgow this week, I hope that you can set that agenda.” 

Mr Brown also remarked on the growth of credit unions in Britain which now provide services to over 900,000 people, including 5000 in his own constituency.  He observed how this has been helped by the Growth Fund, introduced by the last Labour Government, which provided over 400,000 affordable loans to the value of £175 million, mainly through credit unions, and saved borrowers a similar amount in interest payments. 

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “I know that the credit union representatives around the world will have been very pleased to hear Gordon Brown express such respect and faith in both their work and their potential.  Credit unions in Britain have benefitted greatly from Government investment in recent years and it is testament to the success of the Growth Fund and credit unions’ ability to change lives that the current Government is carrying out feasibility studies to examine the best way to carry forward this investment and continue growing the credit union sector.”