Had a very interesting chat with James Berry, the Chief Exec of Bristol Credit Union today, on a visit to their new(ish) offices in Stokes Croft, which are a huge improvement on their old premises in Old Market. James told me I'd come at a quiet moment, but customers were still queueing out the door. The CU has gone from strength to strength since most of the local credit unions merged into one. They've increased their customer base from c.2000 to c4500, and their assets from c£450,000 to c£2 million. They've now got a current account cash card, which James proudly told me he'd used recently in Egypt and Washington DC, and are doing a sterling job administering loans from the DWP's Growth Fund and the Child Trust Fund. They're also planning to widen their coverage soon to all of CUBA (the Counties that Used to Be Avon as we say here), and are in talks with housing associations about whether they can provide mortgages to people on relatively low incomes on part buy/ part-rent schemes. (In fact they've got a conference coming up on September 16th on housing-related issues, and I've agreed to be a guest speaker). All good stuff - and nice to know my (modest!) savings are in safe hands.
Actually, I should also flag up where the Government is with its review of credit union legislation - see here for more info. All good stuff, as I've already said!