UK-wide church credit union given green light

Scotland’s national church is part of a major UK-wide credit union, given the go-ahead by the financial authorities yesterday.

Scotland's national church is part of a major UK-wide credit union, given the go-ahead by the financial authorities yesterday.

The Churches' Mutual Credit Union (CMCU) has been formed in collaboration with the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales.

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, said: "This is an important step towards fair finance as the CMCU will soon be open for business – enabling Church of Scotland ministers and elders to benefit from credit union membership, and then to share from personal experience the value of credit unions."

CMCU plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.

At first, churches and people associated with the church will be able to become members and benefit from the financial products. It is estimated that at least 60,000 individuals plus churches and church charities will be eligible to join CMCU. This will enable savings and provide loans to individuals for essential items and to churches for mission projects and equipment.

CMCU plans to offer a range of loan products which will be a major funding stream for the dividend that will be paid on savings products such as ISAs, instant access and regular (monthly) savings accounts. These products will include a competitive car loan scheme.

Once the credit union has built up an established track record it is intended that CMCU will be open to all church members and extend its denominational base. This would require permission from the regulators to alter CMCU's common bond (the definition of those eligible for membership).

The Church of Scotland established a high-powered Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity, chaired by Professor Charles Munn OBE, in 2010 to look into what had gone wrong with our economic system and to suggest how it might be improved.

It set as its principle task to establish how the Church could "best offer Scottish society a new vision of what might be achievable in the economic, social and community life of the nation". It reported to the General Assembly in May 2012 and published a pamphlet "A Right Relationship with Money" which summarised the commission's findings and recommendations. Amongst the vehicles identified as being able to help deliver an ethical approach to finance, was the Credit Union movement. The Church is increasingly actively engaged with the Credit Union movement, recognises the positive role it plays in Scottish Society and welcomes the growth and development of the Credit Union Sector and the affordable financial products credit unions offer communities and families.

Watch Rev Sally Foster-Fulton explain the Church's involvement in the CMCU