Tuesday, 9 November 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
The programme for Government includes a number of commitments to the credit union sector. I intend to shortly issue proposals emanating from the review of the policy framework for consultation. This will involve meeting with representative bodies and other stakeholders, a commitment I made in my recent engagements. In total, I have had 23 meetings with credit union stakeholders this year, including with representative bodies, collaborative ventures, service providers, the credit union advisory committee and the Registry of Credit Unions, to gather further information to help inform the next steps of the review.
In supporting the sector to provide essential financial services to local communities, I will outline some of the recent developments which highlight the potential of the sector to fulfil a role in community banking. The Central Bank of Ireland in recent years reviewed both the lending and investment frameworks. Since January 2020, credit unions now have a combined capacity to provide up to €1.1 billion in additional SME and mortgage loans with further capacity available to credit unions that can comply with certain conditions, or on the approval of the Central Bank of Ireland. As of June of this year, credit unions had a combined mortgage and SME loan book of €372 million, an increase of 18% on last year. There is, therefore, adequate headroom for credit unions to issue more mortgages and more loans to the SME sector, without requiring any further Central Bank of Ireland approval at the moment. Credit unions are permitted to place their surplus funds that have not been lent to members in range of investments, including tier 3 approved housing bodies, AHBs. I am pleased to share with the Deputy that two credit union-backed funds have received approval from the Central Bank of Ireland. Credit unions will be able to invest up to €900 million in these regulated funds, which will be subsequently lent to the AHBs.