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Savings-clubs trials to be held in C of E primary schools

21 November 2014


A NETWORK of primary-school savings clubs to teach children how to manage money has been proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings.

The task group expects to carry out trials in Church of England primaries in three areas of the country, using financial backing from the Government and other sources. After a successful pilot, the scheme would be extended across the country.

Savings clubs would be backed by school-based credit unions, which parents, staff, and pupils would be allowed to join. Children would be helped to run their clubs as junior cashiers or bank managers. Parents would be offered the chance to save for school trips or family expenses through dedicated accounts.

The former chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, Sir Hector Sants, who led the group, said that the programme was part of a broader C of E initiative to support a larger, more sustainable community-finance sector: "Savings clubs can help to establish a responsible approach to money from an early age," he said.

The proposals are a response to an earlier Children's Society report detailing research evidence that children have a high level of exposure to debt, and engage with the financial sector at an increasingly young age. About two-thirds of children had a bank or building-society account and a mobile phone before they started secondary school, the report said. The society's chief executive, Matthew Reed, said: "Children are regularly bombarded by irresponsible advertising, and need a decent financial education."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who endorsed the scheme, said that it had "the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of millions of children and potential adults".

The scheme has been widely welcomed outside church circles. The MP for Worcester, Robin Walker, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, quoted research that showed that two-thirds of children aged ten to 17 regularly saw advertisements for payday loans, and one third of them admitted finding them "tempting". "It cannot be right that children learn about payday loans from advertisements. I warmly welcome the C of E initiative," Mr Walker said.

Since the proposals were announced, it has emerged that savings clubs are already in place at several schools around the country. In south London, a successful savings club at Holy Trinity Primary School, Tulse Hill, linked to a credit union associated with Holy Trinity's community-outreach scheme, has been running for seven years, and has been extended to two local-authority schools.

A statement in support of the task group from the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Mark Bryant, said that similar initiatives were under way in Durham diocese.

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