The Scottish Government is keen to encourage alternative finance provision, with a range of models designed to suit the circumstances of individuals as part of our wider approach to tackling financial exclusion and creating a fairer Scotland.
We welcome the work of others in this area, including the Carnegie UK Trust which published ‘Gateway to Affordable Credit – The Report of the Affordable Credit Action Group’ earlier in 2016. The report examined the challenges faced by Scotland’s credit unions and Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and set out recommendations to help grow not-for-profit alternative finance providers.
We have also supported credit unions in recognition of their role in tackling financial exclusion; and in providing financial services and products to a wide range of customers. The report of the Credit Union Working Group “Scotland’s Credit Unions: Investing in Our Future” was published on 10 February 2016 (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00493888.pdf). One of the recommendations related to increasing the number of sustainable, junior savers schemes in partnership with schools across Scotland. I recently announced how a £300,000 fund to support Junior Savers Schemes will be disbursed in 2016-17.
There are already three CDFIs in Scotland: DSL Finance; Social Investment Scotland; and Scotcash, and discussions have taken place with the Community Development Finance Association to consider how the CDFI model might be developed here.
Lastly, Accountant in Bankruptcy operates a Scottish Financial Health Service website (https://www.scotlandsfinancialhealthservice.gov.uk/). This contains links to a range of organisations who offer information and advice on debt, managing money, housing, homelessness and ethical lending.