NORTH Antrim Ulster MLA, Robin Swann, has called on the Executive to follow the lead set by Westminster and allow post offices to provide credit union services.
Mr Swann issued his call after the influential cross-party Business, Innovation and Skills Parliamentary Committee published a report welcoming the Government’s supportive response to calls for the Post Office network to play a role in supporting the credit union sector by making credit union services available at Post Office branches.
Mr. Swann has been a long-time activist with the credit union movement and he also welcomed the news that the Department for Works and Pensions will make a further investment of up to £38 million over the next three years in credit unions.
He added: “This investment, which is in addition to the £13 million invested in 2011/12, will be conditional upon the credit union industry meeting a number of agreed milestones for collaboration, modernisation and expansion. I strongly urge the Stormont Executive to ensure that Northern Ireland, and especially North Antrim, gets its fair share of this much-needed funding.
“The aim will be to support the sector to provide the kind of financial services that people want for more consumers on lower incomes, and do so in a way that enable credit unions to modernise, expand and become financially sustainable.
“I also urge the Stormont Executive to give whatever support it can to the Ulster Federation of Credit Union (UFCU) in its very worthy campaign to make credit union services available through the Post Office.
“The £38 million investment in credit union expansion which the Department for Work and Pensions has unveiled will be absolutely crucial to achieving this.
“This is a vital move involving the Post Offices because they would be able to offer their services through the Credit Unions, particularly in the rural areas in Northern Ireland where the local Post Offices were either closed or moved into the larger towns or shops. “I see a great advantage for all the Credit Union members, as well as the local communities, in Northern Ireland if a partnership could be developed with the post offices,” he added.