HI-Scot Credit Union

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About HI-Scot Credit unions explained

What is a Credit Union?

Credit unions are not banks but are run for the benefit of their members only. In the case of HI-Scot, that's the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and anyone who lives or works in the area can join.

Often seen as a more ethical alternative to banks and other financial institutions, credit unions typically serve a wide range of members and provide a safe place for their savings, plus the facility to take out a loan at a competitive rate of interest.

How do Credit Unions work?

Savings are pooled together to be used as a common fund from which members can apply for loans. Credit Unions encourage people to save, and members have financial security through low cost loans.

When someone joins a credit union they open an account (savings). It is called a share account because individuals become part owner of the credit union.

Since credit unions are not-for-profit organisations, any money made above the cost of operations is returned to the members in the form of dividend.

Are Credit Unions safe?

Yes they are, and credit unions undergo all the same checks as any other financial institution. They are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Credit unions are also covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Are there high street branches to go to?

Not normally and, in the case of HI-Scot, there's just the one in Stornoway. However, this doesn't normally present a problem for those wishing to become members, as there are a large number of Access Points, including Highland Council Service Points, and here ID can be verified as part of the simple application for membership process. Then, as a member of HI-Scot:

  • Savings can be paid in by standing order, payroll deduction or via your member card at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet
  • Application forms for loans and other services are all available online

And of course, there's the option to phone or email with any questions or issues.

How and when did credit unions start?

The modern credit union movement traces its origins to Germany and to Friedrich Willhelm Raiffeisen, the Mayor of a small town in southern Germany, who in 1849 formed societies, which later evolved in to credit unions. The purpose of these credit unions was to enable people to help themselves in relieving debt and poverty.

Credit Unions in the UK were in existence for some time before the movement gained momentum in 1979, when the Credit Unions Act was passed.

Since then, the credit union philosophy of mutual self-help has proved very popular, and there are now over 600 credit unions affiliated to the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Credit Unions are growing in popularity in the UK

Information published from the Bank of England in mid-2013 has clearly shown the continued and uninterrupted growth in the popularity of credit unions.  The annual, audited figures for September 2012 show that membership passed the milestone of one million people, while assets rapidly approached the £1 billion landmark.

The Credit Union 'Mission Statement'

The mission of the Credit Union is to promote the financial wellbeing of its members. To achieve this purpose the Credit Union is committed to providing a broad range of innovative financial products supported by the excellent service of a dedicated, well-trained staff. These programs will be administered in accordance with sound management practices to maintain the financial strength of the Credit Union. The Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Credit Union hereby affirm that the efforts of the Credit Union will be consistently and professionally dedicated to the accomplishment of this mission.

Credit Unions at a glance

  • An easy way to save 
  • A cheap way to borrow 
  • Insurance on loans at no extra cost
  • Profits returned to members
  • Money stays in your community
  • Regulated and insured so you know your money is safe
  • Part of the world wide movement
  • Savings schemes for young people too

Credit Unions aim to help you take control of your money by encouraging you to save what you can, and borrow only what you can afford to repay.

Find Us here:
  • HI-Scot Credit Union
  • Tel: 01851 701865
  • Fax: 01851 701542
  • Email: info@hi-scot.com
  • Web: http://www.hi-scot.com
Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority, and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.