The Government Legislation Programme was published on 14th September and sets out the agenda of new legislation for this Autumn Session 2022. CUDA is delighted to note that the priority legislation for drafting and publication during this session includes the Credit Union (Amendment) Bill. This will give effect to the proposals that have emerged from the Review of Policy Framework of Credit Unions. It is ten years since credit union legislation was amended.
At a time when there is a significant housing challenge, a climate change crisis, a looming pension crisis and large-scale bank branch closures Government cannot solve these alone. CUDA believes that there is a real fit between key elements of Government priorities and the future role of Credit Unions.
Credit unions have the funds and the market reach – our unique ownership model means benefits flow back to Members and Communities. The new proposals will facilitate real collaboration occur between credit unions. Each credit union is a separate legal entity with its own board and management team, and up to now they are not permitted share business. These changes will permit credit unions to collaborate to introduce loans to each other and collectively share loans. They will be able to establish a credit union for credit unions and have greater opportunity to invest in credit union owned service organisations. These changes will help Credit unions make a greater financial, social and environmental contribution as their legislation framework is modernised.
Allowing credit unions to do more business through these changes, this could effectively see their lending double increasing from €5.5bn to over €10bn.
We will also welcome guidance from the Minister of State at the Department of Finance on how credit unions can qualify to become distributors of State Savings products as this would be an opportunity to broaden the savings options that credit unions can offer.
We look forward to continuing contributing to the good work that is ongoing and would ask all members of the Oireachtas to support and enact these overdue changes. To bring all this good work into existence we need the Central Bank to ensure that they implement regulations that will enable the changes to the credit union law that then enables them to get on with delivering real competition and choice for people throughout Ireland.