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10.10.05
International Credit Union Day Celebration

A brand new credit union branch will be launched in Cornwall this month.

The launch of the Porthtowan branch of Mid Cornwall Credit Union will take place at Porthtowan Village Hall from 2 – 5 pm, on Thursday October 20 and has been timed to coincide with International Credit Union Day, when 123 million members across the world will celebrate the credit union concept.

There are more than 37,000 Credit unions in 89 countries. Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned and controlled by their members and offer savings and very good value loans. Currently only £1 in every £8 saved by people in Cornwall is re-invested locally, but credit union members' savings are kept within their own community, and help to strengthen the local economy by helping to support local businesses and create new employment. Each credit union has a 'common bond' which determines who can join it. The common bond may be for people living or working in the same area, people working for the same employer or people who belong to the same association, such as a church or trade union.

Mid Cornwall Credit Union (MCCU), which is part of the Association of Cornwall Credit Unions, was set up in March 2000 and members must live or work within the common bond of Carrick (excluding Mylor, Penryn and Falmouth). In May this year it received more than £63,000 from the Objective One European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of an expansion project worth more than £150,000. That investment was used to take on two new employees, development officer Katrina Wagstaff and office administrator Sue Swinchatt.

Katrina, who is based at the MCCU Truro branch, explained: "This investment is critical for MCCU to develop its services and maximise its potential. To date the Credit Union has been successfully run entirely by volunteers and has 580 members. These new posts will ensure the expansion of the Credit Union which is aiming to extend its membership to 1,800 and to open a further four to five branches over the next three years, capturing and re-circulating millions of pounds within our local community."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, added: "The expansion of this project will help retain wealth in the Mid Cornwall Credit Union area and by opening new branches the opportunity to support the whole concept becomes more easily accessible to everyone." The Porthtowan branch is part of the planned expansion and will be manned by two volunteers and open for two hours every week.

The guest speakers at the launch will be Councillor Tony Husband, Leader of Carrick District Council, and Cornwall County Councillor Ken Yeo, Executive member for Public Protection. Councillor Yeo said: "It is good to see the people of Cornwall taking to Credit Unions in such numbers, and I am pleased to see a new branch opening in my electoral division at Porthtowan. Anything which supports local businesses, creates jobs and strengthens community ties is to be warmly welcomed."

For further information please contact the Objective One Communications Team on 01872 223439 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Mid Cornwall Credit Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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Editor's notes:

MCCU is part of the Association of Cornish Credit Unions, KernowKash, and that there is almost county-wide cover by credit unions with Restormel in the process of registration.

In Ireland, 50% of the population belong to a credit union, in America and Australia, the figure is around 30%. Credit unions are also growing fast in Eastern Europe, parts of South America, Africa and the Far East.

Credit Unions are locally owned and locally controlled.

Since July 2002, credit unions have been regulated by the Financial Services Authority, as are banks and building societies. The performance of each credit union is monitored by the Financial Services Authority and staff and volunteers involved in the running of the credit union must be approved by the FSA. Membership of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme means that in the very unlikely event of a credit union failing, savers will be compensated. The FSCS will repay 100% of the first £2000 in savings and 90% of the next £30,000. (These figures are the same for banks and building societies). Credit union members also have the option of complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service, if they don't get satisfaction from their credit union's complaints procedure.

There are now over 600 credit unions in Britain with £100 million invested.

Officers are all unpaid volunteers and are elected from among the membership to run the Credit Union. Credit Unions also have a qualified auditor to check the books and prepare the Annual Audit Report which is submitted to the members at their Annual General Meeting.

The ideas and values which are central to how credit unions work were developed in the 19th Century in Britain, Germany and North America. The credit union movement grew quickly throughout America and Canada and quickly became an influence for the rest of the world.

Credit unions in Jamaica began during the 1940s. In Ireland the first credit union was founded in 1958.

Credit unions took some time to take off in England, Scotland and Wales. People who had seen the idea work in Ireland and the Caribbean were amongst the first British credit union pioneers, as were people who heard about the idea from relatives in Canada and elsewhere.

Before 1979, there was no legal structure for credit unions, so some of the early credit unions chose to register under the Companies Act and some under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act. In April 1979, the Credit Unions Act became the last Act to be passed by the outgoing Labour Government.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk