Credit where credit's due: the provision of credit union services through post offices

Document type
Burrows, Andy
Consumer Focus
Date of publication
1 May 2012
Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Corporate subject(s)
Great Britain. Post Office
Social welfare
Material type

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In the past decade, credit unions in Great Britain have trebled their membership and their assets have expanded four-fold. There is real potential for credit unions to expand further, both in terms of geographic reach and customer base. This would improve access to basic financial products, such as savings accounts and affordable credit. Despite being a mainstream part of the financial services landscape in parts of the UK geographic coverage of credit unions remains limited. Even if growth rates match or exceed the performance of recent years, without new access channels, many credit unions may be unable to offer coverage in areas where there is growing demand. This research suggests there is considerable demand for a significant change in the geographical reach and take-up of credit union services, and that post office access offers the potential to achieve this. Crucially, post office access would help address many of the major barriers to take-up of credit union services. These barriers include: low awareness of credit unions and their purpose; limited geographical reach that restricts many people from joining a credit union even if they want to; and credit unions not being able to offer their services through a convenient and trusted channel

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