We have introduced the Credit Union Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives as part of our Code of Governance programme in January 2008. We believe access to basic financial education and services is essential to building economic self-reliance. By introducing unique products and services and working in partnership with Central & Local Governments and community organisations, we support our members to gain access to the financial services that they need.
SCHOOLS - Since 2004 the credit union has been involved in projects in local schools. School children are encouraged to develop the savings habit by opening Young Savers Accounts. To facilitate these programmes, specially assigned outreach workers visit schools to set up and train volunteers to run collection points. To date, Young Savers Programmes are run in 13 schools across the borough and the credit union is looking to expand to more schools in Southwark in the near future.
EMPLOYMENT - One of the major barriers to residents in the borough securing employment is that job seekers may not have a bank account. To tackle this barrier, the credit union is working in collaboration with partners across Southwark to run clinics at Job Centre Plus, Reed in Partnership and Work Directions.
LOCAL ECONOMY - Support for the local economy is provided through the savings residents make from paying much lower interest on credit union loans. If a resident borrows £500 from a doorstep lender they pay £410 in interest on average - the same loan from the credit union costs £67.36. The difference is a staggering £343 - money that stays with that resident, in the local economy.
For example, between September 2006 - September 2014, LMCU granted £36,046,818 to low income members. If these members had borrowed from a doorstep lender they would have paid over £24.4 million pounds in additional interest payments, over and above the interest they paid to the credit union. As a result of our direct intervention, LMCU have managed to retain £24.4 million in the local economy and in the pockets of our members.
GREEN MEMBERS - The credit union is conscious of the impact of its activities on the environment. In 2007, London Mutual Credit Union (formerly known as the Southwark Credit Union) set up a Green Members Scheme to reduce its use of paper. Green members opt out of receiving paper statements and are able to view their statements online and receive statements and newsletters via email. Since it was introduced this scheme has reduced the credit union's use of paper by an estimated 8%.
RECYCLING - The credit union is also committed to recycling. Our credit union waste is separated and 90% of the total waste is being recycled.
ENERGY SAVING - We consistently educate our staff and they are enthusiastically participating in our energy saving programme and wherever possible use paper and resources efficiently.
OUR STAFF - London Mutual Credit Union employees are rewarded with number of staff benefits including:
INTERNATIONAL - The credit union runs a student work placement scheme which provides opportunities for young people who are interested in the financial services sector to gain experience of working within a financial institution. Each year the credit union is able to provide this opportunity to at least 8 people. This program has an international dimension and students from several countries, including almost all European Union countries, together with students from the USA, Korea, China and India have come to work at Southwark Credit Union.
London Mutual Credit Union (formerly known as the Southwark Credit Union) is a community based financial cooperative and the social responsibility aspects of its operations as a financial institution cannot be divorced from its position and responsibilities in the community. The large community outreach projects that the credit union has undertaken since 2003 are a testament to its commitment to integrating the social concerns of the community into the way it carries out its business.
FINANCIAL EXCLUSION - This is a key CSR issue in the borough of Southwark. Financial exclusion is an issue where poverty, unemployment and deprivation are endemic, although these are not the only factors that determine exclusion. London Mutual Credit Union is committed to address social and financial exclusion. We do this mainly by providing appropriate products to meet the needs of those who are at risk of financial exclusion and also, in collaboration with a number of partners, by developing new ways of outreach to raise awareness in the community of the range of financial services providers that are open to residents.
In addition to its traditional savings and loan products, the credit union now offers products and services that will lower the barriers experienced by those at risk of exclusion. These products and services would bring financially excluded residents into the level of financial services enjoyed by those who are at work (financially included residents) who tend to have access to mainstream financial services. As one of our members said 'having the debit card would allow me to shop around and buy things from the Internet or pay for my groceries using the Debit card like the normal people do'.
BENEFIT DIRECT ACCOUNTS - These are designed to serve the needs of the financially excluded residents in Southwark, Lambeth Westminster or Camden who don't have access to mainstream financial services such as savings, loans, current account and insurance. To date (Jan 13) over 9500 current accounts have been opened. The growth rate of these accounts is exceptional. Our flexible savings plan means that members are encouraged to save, on a regular basis however small the amount, so that they get into the habit of saving.
From September 2006 to September 2014 the LMCU granted £36,046,818 in benefit direct account loans, all to low income members. If these members had borrowed from home credit companies, often one of the few choices otherwise available to them, they would have paid over £42,412,048 in additional interest payments, over and above the interest they paid to the credit union. This £24.4 million, potentially saved on interest charges by members, would in part have been saved or spent within the local economy.
|Cost of loan from
|Cost of loan from
borrowing from us
|Total Interest for £36 million loans||£29,558,391||£5,146,342||£24,412,048|
There is evidence that London Mutual Credit Union is succeeding in creating a pathway to financial inclusion for its members. A number of members who initially opened a Benefit Direct Account have been able to migrate to the new Credit Union Current Account.
CREDIT UNION CURRENT ACCOUNT - For those people who have had poor or no access to current accounts and transaction banking, the credit union current account is a positive development. It offers an ATM and VISA Debit card as well as transaction services such as Standing Order payments and a Direct Debit facility. As it has no cheque book or an overdraft facility, the product is designed to guard against increasing indebtedness.
GROWTH FUND INVOLVEMENT - London Mutual Credit Union was the first credit union in Britain to sign up to deliver the Department of Work and Pensions' Growth Fund. The Growth Fund delivers loans to some of the most economically disadvantaged people in the country.
OUTREACH - In addition to the range of new products that have been developed, the credit union employs outreach workers, whose role is to deliver community outreach projects. Outreach workers enable the credit union to understand better the needs and concerns of the community and to be more effective in addressing those needs. We work in partnership with many local community groups, housing associations, local and central Government and financial services organisations to address financial exclusion.
SHARING EXPERIENCES - London Mutual Credit Union regularly shares its experiences with other credit unions both in the UK and abroad, money advice groups, the financial services industry and other parties that are interested in financial exclusion through seminars, research reports, presentations and receiving visitors and on one occasion giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee at the House of Commons on financial exclusion issues.