Barclays Credit Union Programme

The Barclays credit union programme is part of Barclays’ strategy to tackle financial exclusion. It aims is to improve the capacity of the community finance sector’s personal and business lending operations in the UK. Barclays is committed to working in partnership with organisations like the Financial Health Exchange and the credit union trade associations to increase the availability of affordable credit in local communities.


Barclays is a proud supporter of the credit union sector. Since 2004, we have given over £4 million to community finance in the UK, supporting over 100 credit unions and CDFIs to innovate and grow.

In April 2014 Barclays announced a further £1m of support to the credit union sector over the next four years. We have spent time consulting with the sector on current needs and have now evolved our support into this new programme focused on developing robustly evaluated training and direct support. The programme will focus on increasing the capacity, skills and resilience of credit unions so they can grow and become more effective and sustainable organisations benefiting even more households. We are committed to working with the sector to develop effective training and support resources and methods which we can make available to all credit unions.

The programme is open to all credit unions in the UK, regardless of affiliation. Through this programme, we hope to encourage collaboration, identification and sharing of best practice, and the development and enhancement of key skills and operational practices to promote growth and improvements across the sector. This in turn will allow credit unions to better meet the financial needs of their members and support more financially excluded and underserved households to manage their money and access and use appropriate financial services. It is being delivered through a number of expert delivery partners: Toynbee Hall, ACE Credit Union Services and UKCreditUnions Ltd, with the involvement of staff and senior executives from within Barclays. The programme is being independently evaluated by the Financial Inclusion Centre.

The programme will fund a team of specialists who will work with participating credit unions to explore their key support needs and priorities and then develop and deliver tailored training and support that will help make a sustainable impact in the sector, improving the skills and capabilities of selected credit unions and their members across the UK. This is a collaborative learning programme; we will robustly evaluate the delivery methods and impact so we can identify what works for wider sharing. We would welcome applications from CUs at different points in development (i.e. very new, more mature) and the training programme will be adjusted to fit their needs.

It will run along two main strands:

Building capacity of selected credit unions to support Directors, senior staff and other personnel to improve their core skills, capabilities and operational practices, across themes such as; risk management, financial planning, governance, lending operations, customer service and many more.

Improving financial capability and resilience through the provision of financial guidance skills training for credit union staff and volunteers. Credit unions can then target those segments of credit union membership who are struggling with their finances and may be more likely to default or be rejected for lending.

About the financial capability training offer

The first year of the programme used information from initial programme screening and assessment days, focus groups and telephone conversations to formulate a flexible and innovative package of training support and resources suitable for each participating credit union. Fully committed to the development of quality financial education and money guidance support, Toynbee Hall aims to develop this support further through collaborative effort with each participating credit union in year 2. Essentially, you help shape the programme to meet your own needs.

The programme will give you additional skills and deeper insight into how your everyday work can have a powerful impact on the financial resilience of your members, regardless of which product or service is being discussed, or the state of the person’s finances. It speaks to the founding principle of credit unions as “encouragers of thrift”; the training and resources will give you practical and effective ways to help members (and potential members) improve their financial resilience.

Participating credit unions can expect to achieve the following outcomes through the financial capability training and support:

  • Have a clear understanding of financial capability and understand the relationship with financial inclusion.
  • Understand the benefits to your credit union when tackling financial capability.
  • Identify your barriers to financial capability work and know how to overcome them.
  • Identify opportunities for developing financial capability and increased learning through the way you communicate.
  • Know how to use a range of resources to help with financial education delivery and money guidance support.
  • Know the benefits and opportunities, and know how to use the programme resources to provide financial capability support to declined members.

Credit unions will engage in both strands of the programme. The training programme will be tailored to the specific needs of each participating credit union, and therefore could cover a number of core areas of development and support.

Support from Barclays colleagues

A core part of the programme is commitment of the time and expertise of our Barclays colleagues. Each participating credit union will be linked with a local branch partner, as well as given access and support to a variety of subject matter experts across the bank based on their specific support and development needs. The training provided will be face to face with the support of Barclays colleagues, but we understand there may be overlap with existing training initiatives. We will try to minimise this as much as possible, by tailoring the training to the CU.

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria will be based on a number of factors, including level of development of the credit union and appropriateness of our resources to the credit union’s specific needs and development priorities. Geography will be considered (to ensure we are able to provide support from Barclays colleagues), but will not be a decision factor; we will endeavour to accommodate CUs along distance from Barclays branches and are exploring virtual options for support.

Application Process

This application is for year two of the programme which will run between April 2016 and April 2017. We will select a number of credit unions at the beginning of the programme year, but please note that we will providing the training on a rolling basis throughout the 12 month period. Therefore, there could be some delay between when a credit union is selected for the programme and when the training is received.

We very much hope that you will consider applying to take part in this exciting opportunity to access high quality and robustly evaluated training and support which will help your credit union adapt to the new regulatory environment, strengthen your governance and commercial knowledge and skills, and support your community in building stronger money management and financial resilience skills and behaviours. We welcome applications from a collaboration of multiple CUs, however, one CU is required to be the lead contact. Please email us at the address below if you wish to submit a collaborative bid.

We look forward to receiving your application.

The application deadline for Year 2 will close at 10:00 am on Monday 4th April 2016. Applications will only be received via email; hard copies will not be accepted.

Please send your completed application to:

Download the application here. If you are not already a member of the Financial Health Exchange, you will need to sign up (membership is free and gains you access to all our resources).