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EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scottish credit unions have until March 1,2006 to apply for funds to help them promote membership, conduct training and refurbish their premises from the Scottish Credit Union Capacity Fund set up by the Scottish Executive (Parliament) to promote credit union membership among the population. The Scottish Executive will not know if it met its goal to increase the adult membership in Scottish credit unions to 5% by the end of 2005 from its 2001 rate of 1% until fall 2006 when the Financial Service Authority releases its figures. However at the end of 2004, membership had climbed to 4.32%, which means 179,000 people had joined credit unions. Credit unions have185 (US$325) million in assets. Deputy Communities Minister Mary Mulligan launched the fund during a visit to Pollok Credit Union in Glasgow, when she said, “It’s shocking that nearly 13% of Scots don’t have access to a basic bank account – that’s higher than the rest of Britain and it’s not acceptable. Financial exclusion fuels the cycle of poverty.” To qualify for money between 10,000 and 60,000, fully established credit unions must be 100% compliant with FSA regulations and have between 1,000-5,000 members. The credit union must explain how the project will increase the credit union’s ability to increase membership capacity. When the program ends, the Scottish Executive will examine other ways to support credit unions. John Kerr, President of the Scottish League of Credit Unions said: “The last three years have witnessed a period of consolidation in the movement. Credit unions have extended their areas of operation to bring excellent services to places where people previously had no access to affordable, financial services and often had to deal with a doorstep lender charging interest rates of 200 per cent and more on small loans for basic household necessities.” -

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