Credit unions will play ‘crucial role’ as society re-opens after Covid

Marlene Shiels

Marlene Shiels, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Capital Credit Union, has said that member-led organisations can play a vital role in helping millions across the country become financially resilient as lockdown ends.

Ms Shiels says she fears a tidal wave of personal debt is looming with so much economic uncertainty ahead and her organisation has just launched a Covid Wellbeing Package for employers to offer staff.

The credit union veteran, who has been at the helm of Capital for 25 years, recently chaired a Money and Pension Service (MaPS) review into how to get two million more people in the UK to start saving. She also currently chairs the FCA’s Smaller Business Practitioner Panel and was on the advisory committee for the recent Woolard Review looking at unsecured credit in the UK.

She said: “Financial resilience in this country is worryingly low and recent figures show that 14.5 million people in the UK have less than £100 in savings. Employers and business groups have been voicing fears around job losses and economic prospects in the coming months and I worry that people will turn to inappropriate and high-cost lenders in an effort to stabilise their finances.”

Capital Credit Union is also encouraging employers to set up savings schemes with credit unions, with staff able to save directly from their salaries, as a first step to building more financial resilience.

Its Covid Wellbeing Package aims to help those struggling with money worries and includes loan products and support specifically tailored to reflect circumstances of the current Covid crisis as well as education materials. Several of Capital’s existing partner employers have signalled their intent to offer the package to their staff.

Ms Shiels added: “Financial worries also have a huge impact on general health and welling. Too often those suffering from concerns leave it too late to take action. We want to help those in trouble make the right choices and others to take the right steps to avoid problems.”

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