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Trade bodies urge Government to fulfil pledge on pushing mutuals

Mutual trade bodies and the Co-op have attacked the Government for so far failing in its pledge to promote mutuals.

At a fringe event at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham last week, the Building Societies Association, the Association of Financial Mutuals and the Co-op called on the Government to translate “warm words” into policy.

Co-op Financial Service chairman Paul Flowers said: “There comes a time when the Government actually needs to translate words into meaningful action and that does need to happen pretty soon.”

The coalition agreement commits the Government to “promoting mutuals and fostering diversity” in financial services.

In May, Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban told an all-party Parliamentary group on building societies and financial mutuals that he aimed to create a “level playing field” for mutuals.

BSA chairman Adrian Coles said: “I was a little disappointed with Hoban’s comments there, it does not seem to be entirely consistent with the coalition agreement. Offering equality is not the same as promotion.”

A report from the APPG, released in July, called on the Government to “urgently” set out how it intends to meet the coalition agreement’s promise.

AFM communications group chair Gareth Evans said: “We hope the Government heeds the report and takes the opportunity to develop a clear strategy to support the mutual sector in a meaningful way and does not just offer warm words.”

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