I today spoke in the House of Commons about the many benefits co-operatives can bring to the economy, especially for local people struggling to make ends meet.
During the debate on the economic benefit of Co-operatives, I pointed to the example of credit unions, used by over 1 million people, as an excellent example of a co-operative that is helping local people in their time of need.
This is in stark contrast to the extremely high rates of interest charged by payday loan lenders.
I believe that Credit unions only account for a small proportion of the total consumer lending market and when you consider that their average APR is 26.8%, we have to ask why payday loan companies can get away with annual percentage rates of over 4000%.
Something has to change.
Recent research by Salford University found that for every £1 a council invests in credit unions, there was a £10 benefit in retained income for the local economy.
I believe co-operatives have a part to play economically at every level of society, from families turning to a credit union at their time of need. There are two credit unions that serve Stalybridge and Hyde.
The Manchester Credit Union, which covers people in Tameside, has over 10,000 members and lends out over £4million per year, and I am keen that credit unions find it easier to function.
And Cash Box, a local credit union in Hyde, will soon be opening their first high street branch in a few weeks – something that we should celebrate.
The positive impact that Co-ops have both economically and socially should be celebrated and I hope that they continue to go from strength to strength.
Published 3rd July 2013