There’s change in the UK air. But it’s slow.

Compared with Canada, CU membership in the UK is tiny. WOCCU figures for 2010 show that only 2.2% of the UK’s economically active population are members – that’s compared to Canada’s 46.2%. It’s ironic, considering that the UK was the home of the current world-wide co-operative movement.

One of the reasons is that successive governments have held them back with restrictive regulations. Another is the problem of perception. In the UK CUs are often regarded as old-fashioned, or only for poor people.

Now a UK national daily newspaper – The Guardian – has published an article seeking readers’ views on CUs. The comments are revealing, and show how out of touch many people are. Take the very first one …

Credit Unions. Great idea. Been done before. That’s how Building Societies started. A bit like grow your own on a small holding rather than going to Tesco for your veg. Laudable. Simple. Very bijou. But not exactly the answer for an advanced country of 60 million people.

Hmmm … Not very enlightened. So Canada and the States, each with nearly 50% CU penetration, are not ‘advanced countries’?

There are a few more comments in this vein. But they’re just a blips. Many more of them show just how valuable the Brits find their CUs.

And they’re growing … but slowly.

You can read the whole article, and comments, here.

(This is an edited-down version of an item that will appear in the 30 March issue of CU Newswire)

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