The origins of the cooperative movement can be traced to the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844, from which similar institutions emerged in Central Europe, the North American continent and the rest of the world. Modern credit unions evolved from these small cooperative societies and have developed into mainstream providers of financial services in many jurisdictions. However, credit unions in the UK have not made a similar impact. There are several factors that have limited their growth – an inadequate legislative framework, an ineffective credit union regulatory system, inappropriate development models, an over-reliance on state subsidies and a disunited movement. The aim of this paper is to re-examine these factors in light of the level of political support provided by the government since 1997.