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Credit Unions have no shareholders - they are mutual organisations, or co-operatives, meaning they are not-for-profit. They are owned by the members, with one vote each, and because there are no external shareholders taking profits, the money stays within the community, strengthening the organisation for the benefit of the members.
While each credit union operates as a separate organisation, there is a common belief that all people have the right to affordable and accessible financial services. Credit Unions in Britain vary in size, services and membership but most have a strong connection with their local community meaning that they work closely with a number of community groups and organisations to improve the lives of people living within the local area.
There are around 292 Credit Unions across England, Scotland and Wales employing more than 1,700 members of staff. These credit unions have over 1,300,000 member in total, including over 135,000 junior depositors.
There has been significant growth of Credit Unions over the last decade, with membership and loans almost doubled, by 188% and 208% respectively. While the deposits and assets were nearly trebled, by 283% and 277% respectively.
Source: PRA audited, 2017 annual figures and ABCUL
In Ireland, 74.47% of the population are members of a credit union. In the United States of America and Canada, that number stands at around 50%, while more than 1 in 5 people in Glasgow have made the decision to join a credit union. While there is still much more room for Credit Unions to grow in Great Britain, they are doing very well internationally with sectors in 109 countries with more than 68,000 credit unions, who combined have more than 235 million members.
Figures correct for 2018. For more information on these stastistics, please visit the website for the World Council of Credit Unions at www.woccu.org