CUDA welcomes first Minister with specific Credit Union responsibility

Credit Unions hopeful that the Minister can support the ongoing expansion of services to members and local communities

Credit unions have warmly welcomed the appointment of Jack Chambers TD as Minister of State for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance which represents a significant step as it’s the first time that any Minister will have specific responsibility for the development of credit unions. According to CUDA (The Credit Union Development Association), Ireland’s Credit Unions have in excess of 3 million members and are the sole provider of credit for many of these members, accounting for approximately 34% of the consumer lending market.

Commenting on the appointment, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, said “We welcome the appointment of Minister Chambers and are committed to supporting him in his new role. Credit unions continue to excel at consumer lending, and are in far better shape to support members than was the case during the banking crisis. We have solid financials, with average capital of 16.5%, stronger governance, great digital capabilities and a reputation as Ireland’s most trusted financial services brand. We have an increased range of lending products – consumer loans now complimented with home loans and business loans, and we look forward to working with Minister Chambers to further broaden the financial support that credit unions can offer members and their local communities.

Keeping key credit union services available to members since the onset of Covid-19 has been a key factor in maintaining morale in local communities. Credit Unions have long believed in playing our role in addressing major socio-economic needs and see the provision of financial supports to be part of that duty.

We have written to Minister Chambers setting out how credit unions can support him in achieving aspects of the Programme for Government and contribute to rebuilding the economy, both at local and national level.”

Supporting SME’s under financial pressure

Mr Johnson went on to say, “Credit unions have significant members savings available for lending and their renowned personal touch that is normally applied to consumers can equally be applied to SME’s at their time of need. We hope the Minister will support our efforts to be part of the Credit guarantee scheme and while the scheme only guarantees a proportion of the money lent, we would be prepared to carry the balance of that risk for businesses in our local communities.”

Credit Unions are ready and willing to invest in social, co-operative and affordable housing schemes that could otherwise stall as a result of Covid-19

“Investment in social, co-operative and affordable housing schemes is required for Ireland to solve its housing crisis, and demand for this segment may increase as more people’s incomes suffer. Such lending is well aligned to the credit union purpose. We would support an amendment of the Credit Union Act to allow providers of such properties, such as AHBs, Housing Co-Ops, Local Authorities and others to become credit union members solely for the purpose of borrowing for their constituted objectives.”