Banking services are essential for all of us. They support people and organisations to manage their money, live their lives well, and achieve their objectives. However, in the UK, the banking system often does not meet the needs of customers and fails to effectively support local communities. Moreover, some people do not have access to banking. Many others have lost trust in their bank.
Covid-19 has highlighted inequalities within and between communities and also underlined the importance of local services for the resilience of communities and enterprises, and for the well-being of residents.
A movement to establish local community banks is setting out to provide access to a new kind of bank – regionally-based co-operatives owned by and accountable to their members. The Community Savings Bank Association (CSBA) has taken the lead in supporting the development of a network of co-operative local banks.
We have been supporting and following the progress of The Greater Manchester Mutual, which has been established to develop a community bank for our region. This will be a co-operative, controlled by members who live and/or work in GM, and providing a full range of banking services to residents, businesses, social enterprises and the voluntary and charitable sector.
A Greater Manchester community bank can work as part of the wider financial system, co-operating with credit unions and others to support the local economy and communities of Greater Manchester, and contributing to a sustainable and just place to live and work.
A co-operative bank will help to retain wealth in Greater Manchester and provide more local accountability and control.
Work is underway to develop a Greater Manchester community bank, with the objective of obtaining regulatory approval. A business plan has been drafted and Greater Manchester Mutual is working with a range of local organisations and networks to build awareness and a base of supporters, helped by a grant from the Hive (managed by Co-operatives UK).
If you're interested in finding out more about community banking, please see the following:
- Banc Cambria, Wales
- North West Mutual
- Avon Mutual
- South West Mutual
- Report by the Royal Society of Arts & Manufacturing “The Road to Resilience: How Community Financial Services Can Help Level Up Britain”.
And if you'd like to get involved in work on community banking, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org