An Insight into Credit Union Membership

Barclays has been funding and operating a four year programme that: provides tailored capacity building support to selected participating credit unions; and helps them implement financial guidance and support for their membership. The aims of the programme are to encourage collaboration, identification and sharing of best practice, and the development and enhancement of key skills and operational practices to promote growth and improvements across the credit union sector. This in turn should allow credit unions to better meet the financial needs of their members and support more financially excluded and underserved households in managing their money and accessing and using appropriate financial services.

The programme has two parallel but interconnected strands:

  • Financial capability interventions: sessions to improve the financial capability of the Directors/ staff and members of the participating credit unions; and
  • Capacity building interventions: training and support to improve the overall operational and financial performance and sustainability of the participating credit unions

The theory of change underpinning the programme is that the financial capability interventions should improve the ability of members to manage their finances which, in turn, should reduce arrears on loans and so on. Similarly, improving the operational efficiency of credit unions should help them provide greater support to members thereby improving their financial management skills.

FIC is undertaking ongoing evaluation of the programme to measure the impact of the financial capability and capacity building interventions by analysing the performance of credit unions and members at different stages of their participation. We will produce a formal report at the end of the programme. However, in the process of gathering the data and undertaking member surveys, we have amassed a huge amount of information that we thought might be very useful and of interest to the credit union movement and others who are interested in promoting community lenders.

The analysis in this report is the largest ever insight into the use, attitudes, and financial capability of existing credit union members. The comparative analysis in this report is based on analysis of almost 12,500[1] completed surveys amongst the 29 credit unions from across the UK that have participated on the first three years of the programme. This equates to consultation with 11.5% of the potential 110,000 credit union members. As ever, we are conscious that those who respond to surveys are by definition self-selecting and that this can affect results. But, notwithstanding the limitations of survey based research, the sheer scale of this analysis should help to:

  • Understand the profile, attitudes and financial behaviours and circumstances of credit union membership in order to shape service delivery, improve customer service and develop financial products to better meet their needs and expectations.
  • Benchmark performance and satisfaction indicators – for both individual credit union to measure themselves against their own development and wider sector.
  • Demonstrate impact and show if credit unions are meeting members’ expectations and needs.

A summary of the report can be found here: An Insight into Credit Union Membership – Barclays CU Programme Summary Report 120318

The full report can be found here: An Insight into Credit Union Membership – Barclays CU Programme Full Report 120318

We would welcome any comments on the analysis. For further information on the analysis and on our work with community lenders, please contact: or

[1] To date, we have actually received 14,931 responses once the post intervention surveys from year one credit unions are included. This equates to a response rate of 13.5% of adult members within the participating credit unions.