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Churches launch new credit union

The Churches in Scotland and Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Methodist Church of Great Britain are also part of the Churches Mutual Credit Union (CMCU).

Initially, only clergy and licensed lay ministers, including their families, and charities which are part of these churches will be able to join the CMCU. However once CMCU raises enough funds, it will seek to include ordinary members and other churches.

A credit union is a financial institution which provides an alternative to high-street banks. Members pay in a set fee every month to have access to the financial services it offers, which vary depending on the amount of members the union has.

A credit union has no shareholders, meaning all money generated from membership fees and interest goes back to members, and to pay for running costs and paid staff if the union has them.

Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, President of the CMCU, tells Premier: "It's about people getting together and helping each other.

"We don't have external shareholders that require their cut, often you can use volunteers to run them, and you have the advantage of things like payroll deduction which keeps transaction costs low and bad debts low.

"Once you've paid the running costs the rest is returned to members by way of dividend or interest on their savings... So it's a very efficient way of recycling money in a community and people helping people.

"There's a real need in our communities to give people access to fair credit and Churches Mutual is part of that. It's about raising the brand image and the profile or credit unions and saying they're for everybody."

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