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The Duchess of Cornwall hosts a reception for representatives of the credit union sector

16th October 2014

The Duchess of Cornwall makes a speech at the Credit Union reception

The Duchess of Cornwall makes a speech at the Credit Union reception

The Duchess of Cornwall has described how she believes credit unions could be a "real force for change" in the financial landscape.

Her Royal Highness extolled the virtues of the institutions that provide a "friendly financial community" for its members and can "bring in from the cold" those who struggle to qualify for traditional loans.

Her comments came in a short speech to invited industry experts attending a reception at Clarence House to mark International Credit Union Day.

The Duchess, who opened a credit union account last year, told her guests: "Credit unions serve people, not profit. They provide a friendly financial community where members mutually benefit from advice, as well as savings accounts and loans."

Credit unions are mutual financial co-operatives that take deposits and give loans to members, they hold more than £1.1 billion worth of assets and have more than one million members. But the sector is still relatively small in Britain, compared with countries like the United States, where credit unions serve around one third of the country's population.

The Duchess of Cornwall went on to say: "I believe credit unions can change the way we talk and think about savings and loans. They can encourage those who have the means to save, and bring in from the cold those vulnerable people who struggle to qualify for loans."

The Duchess concluded: "I do believe credit unions could be a real force for change in the financial landscape and are truly a cause worth championing."

Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (Abcul), said: "We greatly appreciate the support she continues to give to the movement, and welcome this event which will bring the credit union message to a new audience.

"Credit unions are attracting support from a number of high profile backers as more and more people recognise the valuable service they can offer to people from all walks of life."

The Duchess of Cornwall meets a guest who was helped by her local credit union during a reception at Clarence House

The Duchess of Cornwall meets a guest who was helped by her local credit union during a reception at Clarence House

A speech by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at a reception for Credit Unions, Clarence House

Published on 21st October 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you all so much for coming from far and wide to Clarence House today to celebrate International Credit Union Day.  As many people will verify I am no Financial Wizard, but it doesn’t take a money expert (and we have plenty of those here today!) to recognise that Credit Unions can offer a common-sense basic banking service to so many people.  

Credit Unions serve people, not profit.  They provide a friendly financial community where members mutually benefit from advice, as well as savings accounts and loans.  And in case this all sounds too casual, remember that money saved with them has the same Government protection as bank savings accounts.

'Friendly' and 'mutual' these old-fashioned financial terms might ring a bell with those of us with long memories!  I believe Credit Unions can change the way we talk and think about savings and loans.  They can encourage those who have the means to save, and bring in from the cold those vulnerable people who struggle to qualify for loans.

I opened a Credit Union account with my local branch last year.  The simple fact being that if more of us support them by opening savings accounts, they will be able to offer more loans to those who really need them.  And as people discover how well they work for all their members, the word will spread and the momentum will grow...  

On this, International Credit Union Day, I hope that it will be useful to come together under one umbr ...

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