July 2020 Update on regional cooperative banks

From Greater Manchester mutual

Despite the difficulties of the last few months, the network of organisations developing regional community banks in the UK continues to build apace. The Covid-19 crisis has underlined the importance of access to local services including banking, support for small business at the heart of local economies and the need for continued access to cash services. At the same time, we know that the longstanding problems of inequalities within as well as between places need new approaches, especially those that reflect and are rooted in local economies and communities.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce) has been a strong supporter of community banks in the UK, and outlines how they should be an essential part of post-Covid19 recovery.

In Greater Manchester, we are encouraged by the good progress being made by our fellow groups in other regions. Here are some recent developments from the regional community bank movement.

  • Avon Mutual has embarked on the second stage of its fundraising and has now reached two milestones. First, it has submitted its Regulatory Business Plan to the PRA and FCA, as a step towards obtaining a banking licence. Second, Bristol City Council with other local authorities has embarked on due diligence which will enable additional investment in Avon Mutual in due course.
  • South West Mutual is extending its founder share issue and expects to submit its Regulatory Business Plan by the end of 2020.
  • Banc Cambria continues to make progress on planning a co-operative bank for Wales, with the support of the Welsh Government. See this recent blog from the Wales Co-op Centre for more details.
  • Liverpool, Wirral and Preston Councils are working together to create North West Mutual, which will cover Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria. North West Mutual is starting out on the regulatory approval process with ambitions to have the first branches open as soon as possible.
  • Oxford City Council’s Scrutiny Committee has recommended that the council should investigate establishing a mutual bank to support economic resilience.

For more information on Greater Manchester Mutual, please see our submission to the GM Cooperatives Commission in 2019, or visit our website.

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