Farming families and business are being asked for their views on a new mutual finance scheme for rural Scotland.

The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) has launched a survey on creating a credit union for the countryside, a kind of savings and loans mutual owned by its members to serve their financial needs.

An alternative to mainstream banks, a credit union is limited on how much it can borrow, can only be used by its members and cannot speculate with their money.

Credit unions are still regulated by the financial authorities and deposits are protected by the government’s compensation scheme.

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SAOS chief executive James Graham said the survey was open to anyone who lives or works in rural Scotland.

“In light of the credit squeeze of recent years and changes to rural banking services, we want to answer the question: ‘Could the people and businesses or rural Scotland better manage some of our financial resources ourselves?’ ” he said.

“[The union’s] aim would be to service the entire rural community of Scotland, ensuring that members’ money is used to support rural needs.”

To take the survey or for more information on credit unions visit www.saos.coop.

SAOS is also running a prize draw for everyone who completes the survey.

You can have your say on the survey here.