Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 6 February 2014


During the past three weeks I have driven to Westminster and back while the railway tunnel between Exeter and Taunton is being repaired. I just could not face 5 to 6 hour journeys and am already fed up with the sight of tarmac. Hopefully next week I can get back to my routine of thumping out the e-mails and this article whilst enjoying the delights of First Great Western.

Anyway, before I zoomed off last Monday I attended the Plymstock launch of a banking service that has been going for 14 successful years, Hope Credit Union. There are lots of credit unions in this country, but Hope CU is a community based not for profit financial co-operative run by trained volunteers.  Anyone living in Post Code areas PL1 to PL21 can sign up and become a member. Before you can borrow from the union you have to have become a saver first for a number of weeks and the amount you can ultimately borrow is linked to the amount saved.

It is an excellent way of accessing loans when you need to and learning the discipline of saving along the journey.
HOPE CU has a loan failure rate of less than 2%, which demonstrates the success of a financial co-operative based on relationship. I warmly recommend them and anybody wishing to know more simply has to visit the bustling Plymstock library between 10am and 12.30 pm every Monday.

This kind of credit union is not an immediate replacement for the scourge of payday loans, because you do have to be able to save before you borrow, but if more people routinely were members of such a scheme, the need for payday loans would fall away.

We surely miss a trick in the extent of financial information we drum into young people at school. There should be far greater emphasis on managing personal and household finances. Maybe credit unions should also be part of the curriculum. Wouldn't it be a huge step forward if it became the norm for school leavers to sign up with a credit union on getting their first job and saved, say 10% of their starting salary and built up a bit of capital and then had access to reasonable loans when required?

I will certainly be doing all I can to promote credit unions at Westminster. In the meantime why not pop into Plymstock library one Monday for a cuppa and sign up?

posted by Gary @ 08:05