Housing association boss becomes credit union chair
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government, Tenure
Housing boss becomes credit union chair
The chief executive of a housing association has been appointed the chair of a credit union and plans to use his organisation’s own resources to grow the union and expand its services.
Peter Brown, chief executive of 5,500-home Herefordshire Housing, has become the chair of the Money Box Credit Union, which has 400 members and operates across Herefordshire.
Mr Brown said the organisation was in a “weak financial position” but hoped to bring in fresh investment over the coming months with a view to expanding its offering and services.
He said: "We’re looking at putting it on a more robust footing. We plan to use the housing association’s own resources such as accounting and marketing and then trying to identify products we’d look to offer. There’s a lot of potential there.”
Mr Brown said the aim was to get a "balanced portfolio" of services and borrowers and that he wants to market the union to different organisations promoting services such as payroll functions.
“With a better balance of loans and savers we will be able to identify offers we can make to people on low incomes,” he said.
Brown stressed that Money Box would still be a separate organisation and that his role as chair would be in the sole interests of Money Box.
"As a board member you have a duty to look after that organisation and manage that relationship carefully," he said.
The Government sees credit unions linking up with housing associations to help tenants through Universal Credit which will see claimants paid their benefits directly from October 2013.
It has invested a substantial sum of money to help the sector towards independence, however, the cash is conditional upon consolidation and expansion, leading to fears that smaller unions will get left behind and larger ones will lose their local focus.
In addition to seeing them as serving the 1.4m people who have no transactional bank account, it wants credit unions to be a "mainstream option for savers and borrowers" and to offer bank accounts with direct debit and savings account functionalities and other facilities such as jam jar accounts.
Jam jar accounts - which allow customers to split their account balance into separate pots for spending and bill payments - are also being developed by other financial specialists, including allpay, which works with housing associations including Herefordshire Housing, to provide user-friendly ways for tenants to pay their rents.
The Government has also announced plans to consult on changes that would allow credit unions to increase the 2% monthly cap they face on interest rates.