North West Mutual
Merseyside & Preston
Community bank will help local businesses and individuals neglected by mainstream banks.
North West Mutual is a community bank being set up by Wirral, Preston and Liverpool councils to help local businesses and tackle inequality. The bank, which gained Financial Conduct Authority approval in May 2020, plans to open main branches and satellite branches across the region.
The bank will be owned by its members and have a social mission to:
- serve the everyday financial needs of ordinary people, local community groups and small and medium sized companies
- help redress regional inequalities, make financial inclusion the norm, and build community wealth
- significantly increase the proportion of bank lending going to the real (non-financialised) economy and SMEs
- build regional economic resilience, and
- bring about a revitalisation of customer service, relationship banking and mutual trust.
Wirral Council deputy leader Janette Williamson said: “The closure of many high street bank branches continues to have a significant effect on small businesses and residents in Wirral. Many small traders in our borough, who work mainly with cash, struggle to deposit their money – which can disadvantage them either in costly daily travel to deposit to a high street branch or in insurance to keep their money at their premises overnight.
“With the enormous task of rebuilding local businesses and confidence after the pandemic, we need a strong financial institution backing our region more than ever.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Turn RBS into a network of local banks
New banks would be owned in trust for the public benefit and mandated to lend only within their local area.
Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Expand the community and co-operative banking sector
Stakeholder banks can be mandated to serve the public interest or local communities rather than simply to maximise returns.
Cap the cost of credit
Credit cards and other debt need to be regulated like payday loans.
Promote community wealth building
Support co-ops to thrive in their localities by anchoring them within place-based industrial and community wealth building strategies.
Create affordable workspaces
Affordable workspaces are essential to the survival of independent businesses.
Launch a Co-operative Development Agency
A network of support and capacity building to develop and extend the capabilities of the co-operative movement.
Launch a national investment bank
National investment banks can steer capital towards public priorities and economic transformation.
Expand democratic public ownership
New models of public ownership ensure control by users, workers and communities.
Introduce a Co-operative Economy Act
A legal framework tailored to the needs of co-operatives and supportive of their future development.