The concept of “community wealth building” is gaining traction in the UK with politicians on all sides seeing the appeal of community-owned banking models. UK law was changed in 2014 making it possible for banks to be licensed as a true cooperative bank. The resulting coop banks are starting to spread across the UK with the vision of developing a wide network of regional community banks.
One such bank’s founder, Jules Peck, writes how these regional coop banks can put banking back in the hands of the people:
“As well as the bank I have helped found in the West of England region, Avon Mutual, we have banks already in formation in London and the South West and soon we hope in the Preston, Merseyside and Lancashire region, as well as in Wales. … We won’t be trading and involved in the speculative ‘financialized’ economy—just the real economy of our regions. Using local savings to lend to local citizens and businesses and other institutions.”
“In Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, or France, a host of community and state-owned banks like the Landesbanks, JAK Bank, and agricultural co-operative banks all serve such needs and make up as much as 64% of the banking market. …
“Our banks will serve the everyday financial needs of our member customers—ordinary citizens, local community groups, and small and medium sized companies. We will also work closely with local authorities, universities, housing associations, credit unions, community development corporations, CDFIs, local social investment funds, revolving loan funds and others. And we aim to become a key anchor institution supporting the growth of other community wealth building institutions and focused on promoting sustainable and inclusive prosperity for our region.”
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