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The credit union movement in the Highlands and Islands is being strengthened with the merger of Stornoway-based HI-Scot and Highland Communities Credit Union, consolidating the area's credit unions under the HI-Scot banner.

“We are welcoming over 600 HCCU members to the HI-Scot fold,” said HI-Scot's General Manager, David Mackay.

“The merging of these two established credit unions not only sees the membership grow, but reminds us of the core value of credit unions – that, unlike traditional High Street banks, we are run by our members, for our members.”

Credit unions have been providing their members with access to affordable loans and flexible saving options for over two decades in the Highlands. They have a strong tradition of being volunteer-run, meaning that the organisations can meet the needs of the communities they serve.

“Credit unions in the Highlands and Islands arose from a need in local areas,” David said. “As financial cooperatives, HI-Scot and HCCU were both set up and are controlled by their members to benefit their communities.”

It was 21 years ago that Lochaber Credit Union opened their doors in Fort William and it has been growing consistently ever since. In 2015, Highland Communities Credit Union was formed by the merger of Inverness and Lochaber credit unions.

Based in Stornoway, HI-Scot was set up in 2006 as Western Isles Credit Union. Expanding into the Highlands in 2010 brought a change of name to HI-Scot and new members. In 2015, Shetland Islands Credit Union merged with HI-Scot and the latest merger with HCCU means that credit union membership provides a bigger and better organisation to its 4000 members.

HI-Scot and HCCU share a mutual geographic “common bond”, a term used by credit unions to describe what members have in common. In the case of these two credit unions, members all live or work in the Highland region, with HI-Scot's membership extending to the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Islands.

“By merging the two credit unions which operate across the geographical Highland region, we are strengthening an important community resource.” David said.

Going forward in 2021 and beyond, HI-Scot will be highlighting the financial services they offer including affordable loans, saving via payroll deduction and online banking.

“In 2020, when many people had to stay at home, we introduced Phone Loans to make it easier for our members to access our loans,” said David Mackay. “And in 2021, we plan to expand on our online services and will be launching a mobile app so that members can easily keep track of their money with HI-Scot.”

In these uncertain times, HI-Scot is building a strong financial community in the Highlands and Islands. More information can be found on HI-Scot's website: www.hi-scot.com