Financial exclusion and inclusion : credit union development in Kingston upon Hull
Within the flourishing area of new economic geography, increased attention is currently being paid to a variety of 'alternative' sources of credit and finance. As one of these forms, British credit unions are currently particularly 'sexy'. One reason for this status relates to increasing interest (both within the academy and outside) in the role(s) credit unions can play in relieving the effects of financial exclusion and poverty throughout Britain. In the context of the growing concerns of 'New Labour' about these issues, credit unions are progressively being posited as one route to a more inclusive society, both in social and economic terms. However, through an analysis that positions credit unions as 'civil', embodied, institutions in the specific context of their development in Kingston upon Hull, this thesis proposes that the achievement of such a goal is not a straightforward issue. This work questions the extent to which British credit unions have historically contributed towards financial inclusion, finding that such evidence remains partial and somewhat underlain by a 'faith' in the merits of the credit union model. As a consequence, it emphasises that in taking the route to a more financially included society through increased usage of credit unions, a number of barriers to their development and growth will have to be surmounted. These barriers are highlighted within this work through an exploration of a prevailing credit union discourse, which draws attention to the linkages between the structural features of the British credit union environment, and the manifestations of these features within localities such as Hull. In so doing, it concludes by outlining a number of challenges and changes facing the British movement that are reflective of a growing awareness of these barriers and their effects. It is argued that these features will broadly affect (and effect) the contribution made by credit unions within a more (financially) inclusive society in the years to come.