News

  • ACE members' newsletter available - July 2015

    The July 2015 edition of the ACE Newsletter is now available to download (PDF).

    This newsletter includes articles on:

    • Barbara Hann awarded CBE for services to the financially excluded

    • ACE Conference goes down well with delegates

    • 2015 AGM Motions

    • ACE Credit Unions benefit from Barclays Credit Union Fund

    • Meeting with the Regulators - 25 Jun 2015

  • CP22/15 - Reform of the legacy Credit Unions sourcebook

    CP22/15 - Reform of the legacy Credit Unions sourcebook released on the 24th June 2015, proposals to replace the existing CREDS. The major changes that the Consultation Paper proposes are:

    • The shelving of the existing Version 2 category of credit unions - to be replaced with four categories to reflect differing business models. The new categories will be applicable to those credit unions wishing to undertake additional activities Some specified additional activities will require credit unions to maintain a 10% capital requirement although this does not include payment services..

    • Boards of Directors to report to their members annually - at an AGM about any specified additional activities that it is undertaking and additional information will be required in Regulatory returns. Boards must also report on whether the credit union has complied with Single Customer View requirements for depositor protection and on whether it has maintained the required insurance against fraud and dishonesty.

    • A financial risk management policy statement - must be maintained by any credit union carrying on any of the specified activities including mortgages, additional lending, additional investments or payment services. Policy statements on liquidity management and lending must still be produced by all credit unions.

    • New limit on maximum Shareholding – under this proposal no credit union will be permitted to allow a member to be exposed to the risk of a loss of deposits which means that the current FSCS protection limit of £85,000 could not be exceeded by members. This proposal is likely to impact on large credit unions only.

    • Increase in the Capital ratio of large credit unions – credit unions with more than 10,000 members or £10million in assets will be expected to achieve a 10% capital ratio instead of the current level of 8%. This ratio will not apply until 1 October 2018. The ratio will rise to 9% on 1 October 2017. For all other credit unions the ratio remains at 3%, rising to 5% once they have reached either 5,000 members or £5million in assets.

    • Credit unions will not be able to make a sub-ordinated loan - (repayable on liquidation after other debts have been paid) unless it is to another credit union and forms part of that credit unions capital. Restrictions will apply to amounts over £15,000.

    • General provision for bad debts will be abolished – due to the fact that this provision served no meaningful purpose.

    • Current guidance to make a specific of 60% when a loan is more than 6 months in arrears and 80% when more than 9 moths in arrears will become a rule – ensuring a consistent approach to provisioning.

    • Increase in range and duration of investments -currently only available to Version 2 credit unions will be available to all credit unions providing that they fulfil the additional requirements, including having a capital to total assets ratio in excess of 10%.

    • Payment services to members restricted – to credit unions achieving additional requirements aimed at insuring that Boards fully understand the implications of offering such a service to members.

    • Credit unions have to maintain a liquidity ratio of at least 10% at all times – replacing the current ratio of 5%.

    (A PDF version of this page is available for download.)

  • Barbara Hann awarded CBE

    Founding member of ACE Credit Union Services, Barbara Hann, has been awarded with a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. This high level award, which is known fully as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is given to those who have played a prominent role at a national level in their field. Barbara was the Chief Executive Officer of ACE Credit Union Services until October 2014, when she decided to take a well- earned break from her long-term involvement with the British credit union movement.

    Barbara has an impressive past record for working in the best interests of those who often feel excluded and isolated in society and her past job roles have included being a Head Teacher, a Social Worker and a Trade Union Branch Secretary. She has a reputation for standing up for the rights of those who often feel that they have no voice and her work with credit unions over the past twenty years has been exemplary.

    Barbara Hann having just received her CBE for services to the financially excluded. The second picture shows Barbara with her two sons, Trevor (left) and Paul (right). Bill Hudson, CEO of ACE, said: "We are all extremely proud of Barbara and what she has achieved, and delighted that all of her hard work has been recognised at such a high level."

    Barbara, who lives in Newcastle, is a well-known figure in the credit union movement and is well respected by all key stakeholders in the field at all levels. She was a founder members of Moneywise Credit Union in Newcastle, where she worked as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a number of years before taking on the role as CEO of ACE Credit Union Services, of which she was also a founder member in 2001.

    Barbara lost her husband Stan in 2012, a Second World War veteran who served as a glider pilot and who took part in the invasion of Normandy on 1944 on his 24th birthday. Barbara and Stan had a very similar work ethic as evidenced by Stan’s decision to volunteer to work for a new cancer charity in Newcastle at the age of 91. Stan would have been extremely proud of Barbara’s award as are her two son Paul and Trevor.

    Bill Hudson, who took over from Barbara as CEO in 2014 said: “All those involved with ACE are extremely pleased and proud to hear the news that Barbara has been awarded the honour of receiving a CBE from the Queen. It is a much deserved recognition of Barbara’s contribution to the development of the credit union movement over the years and her dedication to representing and speaking on behalf of some of the most disadvantaged members of our society.”

    In receiving this award Barbara joins a talented list of British women including Glenda Jackson, Vanessa Redgrave, Sheila Hancock, Joan Bakewell, Esther Rantzen and Julie Walters.

  • ACE members' newsletter available - April 2015

    The April 2015 edition of the ACE Newsletter is now available to download (PDF).

    This newsletter includes articles on:

    • ACE secures contract to deliver Barclays Credit Union Programme

    • Regulators announce removal of FSCS protection from credit union deposits

    • HM Treasury published response to “call for evidence on credit unions”

    • Another Scottish credit union joins ACE

    • ACE Annual Conference & AGM 2015

    • ACE web-site members' area

  • Barclays Announces Support Programme for Credit Unions

    Barclays has announced their planned support programme for credit unions over the next 4 years.

    Barclays is a proud supporter of the credit union sector. Since 2004 and they have given over £4 million to community finance in the UK, supporting over 100 credit unions and CDFIs to innovate and grow. Barclays promotes an agenda of shared growth in the UK and they continue to believe in the crucial role credit unions play in creating a healthy UK economy.

    In April 2014 Barclays announced a further £1m of support to the credit union sector over the next four years. Barclays have spent time consulting with the sector on current needs and have now evolved our support into this new programme focused on developing robustly evaluated training and direct support.

    The programme will focus on increasing the capacity, skills and resilience of credit unions so they can grow and become more effective and sustainable organisations benefitting even more households.  The new pilot programme is open to all credit unions in the UK, regardless of trade association affiliation. Through this programme, Barclays hope 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 sector.

    The programme will fund a team of specialists who will work with participating credit unions to explore their key support needs and priorities and then develop and deliver tailored training and support that will help make a sustainable impact in the sector, improving the skills and capabilities of selected credit unions and their members across the UK.

    This application is for the first year of the new programme between April 2015 and April 2016. Barclays will select a number of credit unions at the beginning of the programme year, but please note that we will providing the training on a rolling basis throughout the 12 month period.

    The application deadline for Year 1 will close at 10:00 am on Monday 30th March 2015. Applications will only be received via email; hard copies will not be accepted. Please send your completed application to:  BarclaysCreditUnionProgramme@Barclays.com

  • HM Treasury publishes its "Call for Evidence on Credit Unions response"

    Having received more than 80 responses to its "British credit unions at 50 Call for Evidence", HM Treasury has published its response with the following Summary of actions:

    • committing to fund the pilot savings programme established by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Credit Union Taskforce
    • tasking the PRA and FCA to use the evidence gathered by the Government in their review of the Credit Union Sourcebook
    • actively considering legislative amendments to be pursued in the next parliament
    • ensuring that all credit unions are engaged as the Credit Union Expansion Project begins to deliver more products

    The response was published at the end of December and can be accessed here at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/389657/credit_unions_response_to_call_for_evidence.pdf.

  • Report from the 2014 ACE Conference

    The number of credit unions attending the conference was greatly reduced to about 30. The other change was that several credit unions in Wales and the south west of England decided to reduce costs by going home at the end of each day and returning the following days. The other change was the extra session on the Sunday about the future of the credit union movement.

    The evaluation sheets showed that the conference itself was rated very highly with most of the credit unions marking speakers as excellent or good. There were some complaints about the food and that the conference room was stuffy, but praise for the staff at the Hilton who were very friendly and helpful.

    Charles Roe, from the FCA had arrived on the Friday evening and joined us for the evening meal. His presentation on the Saturday morning was highly rated and delegates found him friendly and informative. FCA liaise with HM Treasury and they recognise that trust in banks has reduced, with the financial problems of ppi, Libor and fat cat bonuses making them seen unreliable.

    With regard to credit unions they should not be seen as an alternative to pay day lenders and should not be seen as the 'poor man's bank'. In GB they have a very low penetration rate of 2% and this needs to be increased.

    Governance is important but the FCA is not looking for boards made up of professionals, but run in a professional way. The FCA are adopting a three pillar approach to supervision for banks, building societies and credit unions and has defined categories – C3 including the largest credit unions in Northern Ireland, Glasgow and the police credit union. One of the pillars is the thematic approach where they send out questionnaires to credit union to test their knowledge of CREDS and the next one of these will be sent to credit unions in Scotland. Credit unions need to be clear about how decisions are made.

    Changes are being made to the approved persons scheme with one key person being responsible for this overall and putting things right.

    Financial Services Compensation Scheme – Andrew Breese

    Despite the fact that ACE had started asking for a speaker from the service in October 2013 and had followed this up in December and March, we were told at the last minute that that not one was available. We are therefore grateful to Andrew for stepping in at the last minute. He covered a number of important points: that directors were limited to £1 guarantee if the credit union failed – but would have to have acted in good faith and properly; that where credit unions merged a new SCV (single customer view) would have to be produced which included both the existing members and those joining the credit union; that credit unions funds are only covered by the scheme up to £85k, as for individuals and this created real problems in making sure that investments are spread across a number of firms. He also said that a Will took, precedence over the beneficiary forms which members sign which caused some consternation and needs to be followed up. There were a number of issues around how to deal with dormant accounts, special accounts and linked accounts. Dormant accounts must now be held for 15 years.

    Governance – Darren O'Neill

    In CREDS 2.2 minimum standards are set but credit unions need to aim to set standards above that minimum level. Having a template to help build their policies and procedures but these need to be tailored to their own credit union. Everyone working for the credit union need to be involved with a good clear plan and decision that are consistent with that plan. He emphasised the important of internal audit, segregation of duties and collective responsibility. A succession policy is essential so that there is continuity of knowledge, ethos and skills.

    Pensions – Ian Lowe

    Ian said that this was a complex subject and that he could only provide a brief introduction to the topic. All employers will have to provide a pension where they have more than two employees. There will be a ‘staging date’ letter which will be sent to employers giving them 12 months notice of the need to setup a scheme. Five months after the Staging Date they will have had to draw up a plan for their scheme. Fines are extremely high (up to £10K). There are firms that can help with this process but firms need to be careful about choosing a firm and to be aware of costs. NEST is the pensions regulator. Pensions must cover those aged 22 or over upto 75 years and on wages of £5700.72 and over. 16 to 21 years old are not eligible. The level of pension can be decided by the employer and employees pay into this scheme.

  • Duchess of Cornwall hosts UK Credit Unions

    Nancy MacGillvray, ACE Treasurer, meeting the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House on International Credit Union Day. In her speech at the event the Duchess said: "Credit unions serve people, not profit. They provide a friendly financial community where members mutually benefit from advice, as well as savings accounts and loans."

    Nancy MacGillvray, who attended the event along with fellow trustee Wyndham Conniff said: "The Duchess showed that she had a real understanding of how credit unions can provide financial services for all and not just for those people who are excluded from mainstream financial services. Her support for the UK credit union is much appreciated and she has promised to continue to provide support on an ongoing basis."

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