Thursday, 17 December 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy. I should mention that there are low-cost loans in place, for example, through credit unions. When I was the Minister for Social Protection, I established the "It Makes Sense" loan, which was a low-cost loan provided through credit unions. People could repay it through their weekly social welfare payments or, as was often the case, the household budgeting service. I am unsure as to whether the scheme still exists, but it was set up with the express purpose of providing access to low-cost loans, especially around Christmas, to people who needed them but would not normally get them from the banks or elsewhere.
I have not had a chance to speak to the Minister for Finance about the Deputy's proposed legislation in a while and I am unsure about what approach to it he wants to take. I do not have an objection to there being a cap on interest rates that were previously described as usury, that is, so high that they should have been illegal. When passing any legislation, however, we must consider the law of unintended consequences. While a law may be passed with a view to capping interest rates, there is a risk of an unintended consequence of creating a new, larger market for moneylenders. This is the type of balance we must get right in any such legislation.