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Evaluation of the access to financial products through Credit Unions project

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  • Release date: 29 May 2014
The long-term evaluation aims to assess the impact and effectiveness of the project and review the extent to which its aims and objectives have been met.

This is the fourth and final report of the evaluation.

Main findings

  • The project has been delivered within a supportive Welsh Government and UK policy context, with support increasing of late given growing concerns about pay-day lending.
  • The Credit Unions project was relatively successful in meeting its aims and objectives and reasonable progress made (although not consistent across the movement) towards the objective of providing an accessible, affordable and comparable, high-quality financial service.
  • Some progress has been made towards the objective of developing a strong, sound and effective credit union movement, but continuing rifts within the movement suggest that this has not been fully realised.
  • Overall, the project has performed reasonably well against its Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO)-funded targets and exceptionally well against it target for supporting financially excluded individuals, by supporting over 23,000.
  • Good progress has been made against the targets for 2020 set out in the Credit Union Action Plan and the researchers judge that whilst these are challenging they are achievable provided Welsh Government financial support continues.
  • There has been growth in credit union membership and reasonable growth in the asset base and the loan portfolio through the life of the project and much of this is attributable to the Service of General Economic Interest funding made available.
  • Whilst there has been some improvement (e.g. a decline in bad debts) credit unions are still fairly weak in terms of their financial structures. They still maintain very high operating costs and to hold more cash reserves than desired.
  • The study concludes that the project could have achieved better value for money, but the severe limitations of the available date preclude a full assessment of economic impact.
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