Conservative support for mutual organisations has grown in recent years, a shadow finance minister has told a fringe meeting at his party's conference in Manchester.
Speaking at a fringe event organised by consumer advice organisation Which? and several cooperative and mutual umbrella organisations, Mark Hoban, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "In the past, the Conservative Party has perhaps not talked enough publicly about its support for the mutual sector, but now there is a renewed interest in mutual organisations across the House of Commons.
"I have always thought that credit unions play an important role in providing an alternative to the banks and doorstep lenders, but they now have a tremendous opportunity to seize the moment and become the real alternative to the high-street banks."
Mark Lyonette, chief executive of Abcul, the umbrella body for credit unions, welcomed the comments. "People are valuing local, mutual organisations that haven't been embroiled in the international economic crisis", he said.