The Co-operative Party is campaigning for the creation of an Armed Forces credit union to help Forces families to access affordable financial services.
With many Army families spending long periods abroad, facing frequent relocation and incomes fluctuating between regular pay and lump sums while deployed, it can make it hard to secure financial services via ordinary high street banks.
The Party argues that this makes Service personnel a target for payday lenders, who charge extortionate levels of interest which can easily spiral out of control.
It’s a growing problem, with more than 11,000 people calling the Royal British Legion’s Money Advice Service each year.
The credit union would provide financial products such as savings, loans and mortgages designed to meet the specific needs of members of the Armed Forces.
Membership of the credit union would be open to all serving and former Servicemen and women and their families. Unlike banks, a credit union would be owned by its members, with profits used to improve services and offer competitive rates of interest.
Labour and Co-operative MP Gareth Thomas is backing the Give Them Credit campaign and recently led a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
He said: “Armed Forces families make huge sacrifices for our country, they deserve better. An Armed Forces credit union could provide specialist financial products tailored to meet the needs of Service families and importantly help them plan for a future civilian life.”
Shadow Defence Secretary Gemma Doyle added: “A military credit union would protect military families from exploitation. I cannot see any reason not to go ahead with it.”
The plans won limited government support as Defence Minister Philip Dunne MP acknowledged that that plan could have “considerable benefit”, though he stopped short of committing the MOD to adopting such a scheme.
Go to givethemcredit.org to give your support or find out more.