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Local Councillor and credit union lead cooperative approach to the community of Preston

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02 Feb 18

The co-operative model for the city has been dubbed the Preston Model.  Preston Council began work on the model back in 2013, as the Labour-run council planned to rebuild the economy of a city which was ranked in the bottom 20 per cent of the deprivation index, and faced its central government grant being cut from £30m to £18m.

The Preston Model has helped the city achieve the second biggest shift in its multiple deprivation index ranking between 2010 and 2015.

As a key part of the model the council resolved to take on the loan shops, and in 2014, l backed what was then Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Credit Union (BFWCU) to extend its common bond to Preston and has brought a cooperative approach to the community.

Councillor Matthew Brown, Preston’s cabinet Member for Social Justice and Inclusion Policy, said: “We’re trying to promote public ownership at a local level. So there’s the idea of establishing a community bank. There’s the idea of promoting credit unions and community development funds.

“Preston’s credit union that collapsed in 2008, despite best efforts to keep it going, wasn’t the most sustainable model. It was a city wide credit union. The model we’re looking at now is a ‘live and work’ credit union. If you live or work in Preston you can access it

“By doing that we’re getting a wider range of people putting the money in it, with middle incomes supporting the people on lower incomes, who are at the mercy of pay day loaners.”

The council have blocked access to payday loan firms on all of its computers, including those used by the public at the Harris Library. Brown said BFWCU was one of many initiatives the Labour group was introducing to help people struggling financially.

Brown does believe the rest of the country will catch onto Preston’s cooperative initiative and hopes the ideas spread to communities that need it most, Brown says: “Imagine if every Labour city were setting up its own banks, supporting worker-owned businesses and credit unions? Imagine it. That would be our way of taking back control.”

Matthew Brown and Clevr Money’s Mike Barry are conducting a workshop at ABCUL’s Annual Conference to talk about how their innovative partnership works.

 

 

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