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CUDA member Credit Unions proud to support the recovery of local businesses including the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

By News
  • “” a business lending website is being launched to help local sole-traders & businesses access to credit
  • Plumbers, electricians and other sole traders impacted by COVID expected to utilise low-cost loans of €10,000 to €400,000 in some credit unions.
  • Credit unions set to meet face-to-face with all business members to deliver rapid lending decisions

The Credit Union Development Association [CUDA], which commenced its Small Business Lending initiative early 2020, announced today that 4 of its largest credit unions (Capital Credit Union, Credit Union Plus, Blanchardstown & District Credit Union and Dundalk Credit Union) with a combined membership of circa 200,000 are now successfully partnering with Government in the low-cost COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme. The representative body believes that credit unions will succeed in working with micro, small & medium sized businesses, impacted by COVID-19, to review their cash-flow and working capital requirements to enable these businesses to survive, protect jobs, create future employment and thrive in 2021.

The Scheme offers an 80% Government guarantee to participating lenders to provide Irish businesses with access to low interest loans as they respond to the impacts of COVID-19, but take-up has been low for a variety of reasons. Credit Unions believe that some SME’s have been reluctant to take on further debt in this uncertain economy. CUDA acknowledge that credit unions, who were again voted most trusted organisation in 2020  are seen to be more involved in their local communities, a consequence of which is more local business people will be willing to sit down and discuss the merit of them participating in this scheme.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D.  today announced the participation of one the largest Credit Union associations in Ireland, the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) in the Government’s COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.

The Tánaiste said:

“Irish SMEs will now be able to borrow from Credit Unions under the €2bn Covid Guarantee Scheme. These new providers, from the Credit Union Development Association, have a wide geographical range, from Blanchardstown to Navan.

“Credit Unions are at the very centre of communities across the country. They have an excellent reputation in their local areas and understand the needs of their customers. Their inclusion will help further diversify the options available to small business under this Scheme.”


Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Séan Fleming said,

“I welcome today’s announcement that further credit unions, supported by the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), will be participating in the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, bringing the total number of credit unions in the scheme to nineteen. With their unrivalled local knowledge, credit unions are ideally placed to support the recovery and providing loans to local businesses is a key element of the recovery. Further development of SME lending in a controlled manner could also assist credit unions in growing and diversifying their loan book.”


Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD said,

“I am delighted with the addition of credit unions to the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme. As well as providing a greater choice of lenders for farmers, fishers and food businesses, it will benefit rural communities, which continue to be well-served by the credit union movement. At this time of economic disruption, access to finance is critical to ensuring the ongoing viability of businesses, including those in the agri-food sector and I am pleased that my Department is supporting this initiative.”

The scheme is operated by the SBCI and delivered through the participating finance providers, allowing affected businesses to access additional financing through traditional lenders. 19 Credit Unions with multiple outlets are now participating finance providers in the COVID Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA commented, “

“As the trusted provider of financial services in communities throughout Ireland, we believe that many sole-traders and small business owners will feel more comfortable dealing with credit unions, particularly where they can receive a fast answer to their credit application. Many of these solid businesses are struggling due to COVID-19 and are now at a point where they need to review their cashflow and credit lines to ensure they are well positioned for a return to more normal business volumes in the second half of 2021.

We have designed the standalone business website,, to support this initiative which will be accessible to all business customers of the participating credit unions. They will be able to apply for business loans as well as apply for credit union membership via this site.”






About COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

The scheme, made available by the Department of Business, Enterprise, Trade & Employment is to support the economic recovery and interested parties can find further information on the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme here.  Businesses will be required to make two declarations, i] that their turnover or projected turnover has been reduced by 15% as a result of COVID-19 and ii]  that it has a reasonable prospect of returning to viability post Covid-19.  The scheme can provide liquidity finance. It is situated between the shorter term COVID-19 Working Capital scheme and the long-term Future Growth Loan Scheme being offered by the Government.

Businesses need not previously have been clients of a participating provider to apply for lending from those providers. Loans of up to €1 million are available for up to 5.5 years.  No personal guarantees or collateral is required for loans under €250,000. All loans have reduced interest rates demonstrated in the agreement documents with the participating enterprise.

The scheme will be available until the end of June 2021, or until it is fully subscribed.

The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme operates under the State Aid Temporary Framework introduced in response to the pandemic.

Participating Credit Unions have signed legal agreements whereby the maximum individual loan is set by the Credit Guarantee Amendment Act 2020 and in turn the European Commission State Aid Temporary Framework (Section 25D). This results in the maximum loan been calculated as:

  • double the annual wage bill of the participating enterprise for 2019, or for the last year available
  • 25% of the participating enterprises’ total turnover in 2019; or
  • in limited cases and with appropriate justification, the amount of the finance agreement may be increased to cover the liquidity needs from the moment of granting for the coming 18 months for SMEs.

About CUDA

The Credit Union Development Association was legally incorporated in 2003. In its early days it was the representative voice, on behalf of its owner member credit unions, with legislators and regulators. It has since evolved and now, as well as providing a ‘voice’, it is increasingly providing support facilities in the areas of regulatory compliance, shared services for business supports and digital solutions, as well as providing training & development. CUDA is a credit union owned network that enables member credit unions to engage in beneficial activities which would not have proved possible to do as single stand-alone entities.


About BizFin

The Business Lending Product being launched in participating CUDA member credit unions was based on their strong desire to to serve another segment of the credit union membership, namely micro, small & medium sized enterprises.    CUDA have recruited the necessary expertise and established a Business Lending Framework, incorporating Risk Appetite & Business Lending Policy Rules.  This is to ensure a consistent and comprehensive assessment within the credit unions.  There is also centralised shared resource available that provides ongoing support on credit assessment, support & expert guidance to assist and give real time advice to the Business Lenders in participating credit unions.  For more information visit

Central Bank provides update on the financial condition of the credit union sector

By News

It is welcomed to see that the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) acknowledged the effectiveness of credit unions in maintaining continuity of services for their members during the ongoing pandemic, and that the sector has shown a level of resilience in 2020.

Commenting on the CBI release, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) stated, “Growing savings and a muted demand for credit are not challenges unique to the Credit Union sector, or indeed, to Ireland. Credit Unions have redoubled their focus on serving people with lending needs and also generating non-interest income.

Credit Unions that have digitised their loan marketing, membership and application processes have fared far better during the pandemic, with some seeing little or no reduction in overall loan volumes. Similarly, those Credit Unions that have signed up to the end-to-end home retrofit scheme ProEnergy, from the Solution Centre, are helping the high number of people investing in their homes over the last few months.

A collaboration of Credit Unions, led by CUDA, have weathered this storm better than many, by using digital innovation as a means of reaching a broader audience, by addressing market needs with schemes like the home retrofit initiative, and introducing new value products for people that also generate income for the credit union (home, life and travel insurance).

If Credit Unions are to maintain their strong capital position, further innovation will be required and CUDA are advocating specific reforms and improvements to facilitate serving more lending needs and also ways to facilitate members savings in a safe environment.  CUDA are urging the Government to consider permitting Credit Unions to introduce their members to State Savings, where savings are placed directly with the Irish Government.  This would alleviate the capital pressure for Credit Unions, as the savings would no longer be on their balance sheet, while allowing them to continue to deliver important services to their members.  We are also seeking legislative change to support the introduction of co-lending which would enable a group of Credit Unions to share the risk for some of the larger loan opportunities.”

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association)

CEO Forum

By News

CEO Forum

On 1st December ’20 the CEO Forum Steering Group launched their website and published four papers. The CEO Business Model Development Forum was initiated by the Registrar of Credit Unions to facilitate and encourage credit union CEO led collaboration on the business model challenges facing the sector.

The papers cover a range of key topics relevant to credit union business model transition:

  • Credit Union Collaboration
  • Revolving Credit
  • Member Engagement/ Strategic Marketing
  • COVID-19 implications.

It was great to see the acknowledgement of the Solution Centre’s Cathal Tyther’s significant involvement in driving the design and specification of the Revolving Credit product.  Indeed he has also supported the Forum workstream members in their engagement with banking system providers and this important new product for the sector should be in test this month.

The Forum plans to publish a further three papers later this month and these will cover the following topics:

  • Intermediation
  • Service Delivery and Operational Effectiveness
  • Balance Sheet and Capital

The CEO Forum website, where the papers can be accessed, is

CUDA Q&A – Irish Independent

By News


CUDA has had the pleasure of contributing to numerous Q&A pieces in the Irish Independent throughout 2020.  A summary of the contributions can be found below.

  1. Published 12th December 2020

I have some savings with my local bank and some more in the credit union. A few years ago, I used to get some interest on these savings in the bank and a dividend from the credit union at Christmas. 

Now I get nothing and am reading in the media that they may charge me to look after my money. Surely, this can’t be true?

There has been a move by lenders to extend the categories of business customers who will be charged for saving money, according to the chief executive of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) Kevin Johnson. This is to be done by changing account holder’s terms and conditions to enable banks to charge what is termed negative interest. It has led to fears that personal banking customers may be next in line to face such charges.

He said it has long been the case that large corporate clients and wealthy individuals are charged negative interest by banks, and it is also clear that the sector is currently undergoing further change in this direction. The outlook for this being extended to the average consumer in the short-term is very unlikely, Mr Johnson said. However, if you are not being charged negative rates, your money is losing value because of inflation, he said.

Consider how much you would need for a rainy day (like unexpected drop in income) and use the balance to clear any expensive debt such as any credit card balance you might have. You could also consider starting or topping up your pension.

  1. Published 12th December 2020

We are in our mid 30s and have just had our first child. We realise that we should have life insurance cover, but only have about €10 a week to spend on it. Is that too little?

That is not too little, according to the chief executive of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) Kevin Johnson. Life cover, particularly if you don’t smoke, is generally far less expensive than many of us perceive, he said. He asked one of his member credit unions to price cover for you.

He found that, for two policy holders aged 35, People Insurance would offer life cover of €200,000 on a joint-life basis, over 20 years, for €29.15 per month. This is well within your budget. Admittedly, if both of you smoke, the premium would be considerably higher at €53.67 a month.

Some providers offer a ‘price matching’ service for life cover, which means that they will check their quote against all providers to ensure that they match the lowest premium offered in the market.

The outlook for the average consumer being charged negative interest on savings in the short-term is very unlikely.

  1. Published 21st November 2020

House prices seem to be booming considering that we’re supposed to be in recession. I am in a stable job unaffected by Covid and have an opportunity to buy the house I rent from the local council under the Tenant Purchase Scheme for about 60pc of its value. Is now a good time to do this?

Buying a house is a really long-term decision, according to Mr Johnson. This means the timing should generally be focused around when you are ready to buy, rather than trying to second guess the market. As it is a local authority house, the purchase will come under the regulation of the Tenant Purchase Scheme, a scheme that facilitates the sale of local authority housing to their tenants, according to certain eligibility criteria. Under the scheme you will pay the market value of the house, less a discount.

Mr Johnson said that in your case this will be 40pc. Depending on an applicant’s income, the discounts generally vary between 40pc and 60pc. On completion of the sale, the authority will place an incremental purchase charge on the house, which is equal to the discount you initially received on the property value. This charge will remain in place for 20, 25 or 30 years, proportionate to the amount of discount you received, so you can’t just sell it on and pocket the difference, he said. Many credit unions specialise in tenant purchase mortgages and are happy to support these purchases, particularly as the loan-to-value ratios are typically relatively low and the existing tenants invariably have a proven payment record, Mr Johnson said.

  1. Published 21st November 2020

Since the start of Covid, I have been reading that banks and credit unions have tightened the criteria for loan approvals. I am in a semi-state job that hasn’t been hit by the pandemic, other than having to work from home. Will I now find it more difficult to get a personal loan when I change my car in January?

Lenders have generally taken a cautious and supportive approach to those that have been financially hit by Covid, according to the chief executive of the Credit Union Development Association (Cuda) Kevin Johnson. He said most lenders, especially credit unions, are keener than ever to lend to those that can clearly demonstrate their ability to meet the ongoing repayments. Most will look for nothing new beyond the standard documentation currently required for a personal loan as a result of Covid. His said this was particularly the case with you, as your income hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic. Talk to your local credit union or bank and get loan approval before doing the deal on your new car, he advised. Or apply online if you prefer. Either way, you will be welcomed by a credit union. There are many flexible loan options, most of which have competitive interest rates.

  1. Published 24th October 2020

My wife and I are looking at retrofitting our home to increase our BER. We heard there is a scheme available through the credit union, and it turns out our local branch will be launching it from next month. Would I better off going with this combination of a grant and a loan, or opting for SEAI grant funding and using some savings we have put aside?

The ProEnergy scheme was developed last year by CUDA in partnership with SEAI and REIL to help homeowners with the cost of upgrading their home energy efficiency. The scheme covers retrofits to a range of energy systems, including attic insulation, external wall insulation, the installation of solar panels, and upgrades to windows, among others.

Presently, SEAI grants will fund up to 35% of the cost of your retrofit. In our experience of running the scheme, the cost to the average household of bringing their home up to the recommended B2 level rating will cost approximately €30,000 – €40,000. So, just accounting for 35% of that cost through grant aid will leave a bill of roughly €26,000 for works.

Certainly, if you have additional savings, we recommend homeowners to use these to help lower the cost of any additional borrowing to cover the remaining bill, or indeed to cover the full cost of works, depending on how much you have saved. For example, take a cost of €40,000 to get a home to a B2 rating – the 35% grant will cover €14,000, which leaves €26,000 for the homeowner to cover. Say you have €10,000 saved – this reduces the amount to be financed by a ProEnergy loan to €16,000. A 5-year loan to cover this cost would see monthly repayments of around €300, which is the average repayment amount on a typical home improvement loan. If you were to finance the full €26,000 through a loan, your repayments would be around €500 per month, which would be a significant stretch for many middle-income families.

  1. Published 10th October 2020

I have just bought a house in Dublin and want to transfer my credit union savings and open an account in the local branch here. Can I transfer from one credit union to the other and would I have to go through any specific waiting period before I could apply for a loan?

Each credit union is a separate legal entity, and membership is open to anyone who meets the common bond, according the chief executive of the Credit Union Development Association, Kevin Johnson. He said this is usually referenced to residing or being employed in a particular locality, or following a particular occupation. When you move to another common bond, you can become a member in your new location credit union and open a savings account, and you also have the option to keep your account in your original credit union if you choose.

In respect of applying for a loan with your new credit union, most credit unions don’t require any established savings record and members can open an account and apply for a loan on the same day, Mr Johnson said.

Some may require new members to build up a record of savings before applying for a loan, but as you are bringing a record with you this should not be an issue. The primary consideration will be your ability to repay the loan.

  1. Published 3rd October 2020

My fiancée and I are planning our wedding for next year. Even though we’ve had to scale back our initial plans due to Covid, we still want to plan something special and are considering taking out a wedding loan for around €10,000. We were initially thinking of putting it on a credit card and paying it off as soon as possible from financial gifts, but would we do better with using our savings and getting a personal loan to cover the rest?

You should be wary of sourcing lump sums of credit from a short-term source, according to the chief executive of the Credit Union Development Association Kevin Johnson. Credit cards are some of the most expensive forms of credit out there, and using credit cards can be a fast way of getting into a cycle of debt that can be very difficult to break free from, he says. Credit unions offer very competitive loan rates with an average of around 10.5pc APR (annual percentage rate). The maximum ceiling of APR payable on all credit union loans is 12pc.

If you were to borrow €10,000 over five years with an APR of 10.5pc it would mean that you would make 60 weekly repayments of €49. Mr Johnson said. The cost of credit would be €2,707, with the total amount repayable standing at €12,707. If you were to combine your savings and a loan, you might also consider availing of a much shorter loan of, say, 36 months. If you were to halve the loan amount, using €5,000 of savings and borrowing the remaining €5,000 at an APR of 10.5pc your loan repayment will be €37 per week, the cost of credit €789, giving a total amount payable of €5,789, he added. In terms of repayment, many credit unions offer flexible loan terms so that can pay off your loan early, make additional lump-sum repayments or increase your regular repayments, all without penalty or charge. This might benefit you specifically as you mentioned your hopes to repay the financing from cash wedding gifts.

  1. Published 4th July 2020 

We have a new baby on the way at the end of July, and I want to take out a loan with my credit union to get a more reliable car. My employer has placed me on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and so my income is reduced. I can still afford the repayments but I’m wondering if my application will be accepted now. Should I wait until after the summer when I will hopefully be back on full pay?

Do not write yourself off just yet, advises Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA). If you can afford the repayments and you can demonstrate this to your credit union, then it is likely you will be granted your loan application, he said. A good credit history and the ability to repay are the two primary considerations for each credit union when deciding whether they can offer a loan to a member. Credit unions take a balanced approach, understanding that people’s financial circumstances change from time to time and there can be reasons for a reduced income that are beyond someone’s control, Mr Johnson said.

They will act in your best interest, factoring in many things, for example whether your employer’s business is likely to return to some degree of normality after this pandemic, to ensure the loan is affordable for you and not place you in an unmanageable situation. You will need to provide certain documentation. In general, you will need proof of income in the form of recent payslips, proof of identification and a utility bill.

You may also need an invoice for the car you want to purchase, particularly if car loans in your credit union are subject to a lower rate.

A mortgage rate of 4pc is much too high. You could move to a two-year fixed rate of 2.3pc and save thousands of euro in interest.

A good credit history and an ability to repay are the two primary considerations for a credit union when deciding whether it can offer a loan.

  1. Published 6th June 2020 

My work is temporarily suspended and I’m looking after our 13-month-old full-time, while my wife works. The little guy likes his naps, so I have a bit of time on my hands. I have made a bet with my wife that I can save us €1,000 on our yearly expenditure. The prize is Sunday lie-ins for a month. How do I win this bet?

This wager is a source of entertainment. But it could possibly be a very lucrative one, both financially and sleep-wise, according to the CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, Kevin Johnson. Consider switching your mortgage, particularly if you haven’t done so in more than three years. For many, this is a sure-fire way of saving money, Mr Johnson says. If you have a credit card balance that you are struggling to get down, consider taking out a short-term personal loan to clear it, cancel the card and just use a debit card from now on, he added.

If your car insurance renewal is coming up, then make sure you shop around for your cover or get a broker to do it for you. Do not just accept the renewal price quoted. Some motor insurers are now offering small rebates on premiums, because they know that there are fewer cars on the road, so it’s less risky in terms of claims.

Also, review your home insurance if it’s due soon. Health insurers are also refunding some premiums to policy holders. So, look into this and review at renewal, Mr Johnson says. Banking fees and charges can add up over the years, so consider switching. Use a cost comparison website to figure out which energy provider could offer you a better deal. You could also look at switching your phone and broadband provider.

Technically speaking, rental income is taxable on a receivable rather than a received basis, according to tax experts. If you have a credit card balance that you are struggling to get down, consider taking out a short-term personal loan to clear it.

  1. Published 18th April 2020

I am one of the many people who have recently lost their jobs in the hospitality sector. I have a mortgage with one of the banks and a personal loan with my credit union. I am a good chef, so I have no doubt that I will get work again once the economy restarts. But I’m worried that any deal I make with the bank or credit union will affect my long-term credit rating, which might prevent me from trading up as the kids get older. I have got confirmation from the bank that the three-month moratorium won’t hit my credit rating, but the credit union says it is still awaiting confirmation from the Central Bank on the issue.

The good news is that the Central Bank, which is responsible for monitoring the Central Credit Register, where everyone’s credit history is kept, has now confirmed that if you form an agreement with your credit union that involves no payments, or reduced payments during the defined suspension period, the credit union will have no obligation to report these changes to the register.

Therefore, it will not affect your credit rating, according to Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association.

The Central Bank has also confirmed that all borrowers and all short-term forbearance arrangements on unsecured loans, which include personal, car and home improvement loans, etc, will be treated the same. Arrangements such as reduced payments, or a payment moratorium, won’t impact upon people’s credit record, Mr Johnson says.

This announcement has allowed credit unions to continue working to support affected members like yourself, who find themselves under unforeseen financial strain, on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that each person is able to avail of a restructure agreement that best suits their situation, he added.

  1. Published 21st March 2020 

Like so many people, I’m already bearing the financial brunt of the Covid-19 national emergency. I usually work part-time but my hours have been completely cut until further notice. I’m concerned because I need to pay my rent to keep a roof over my head, but I also have a car loan with the credit union that I repay monthly. There is no way I will be able to afford everything while this continues.

Firstly, you should apply for the Jobseeker’s Benefit from In relation to repayments of loans, Kevin Johnson, who is the CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, says you can be assured that all credit unions will be understanding and flexible toward their members’ genuine financial limitations over the coming months.

He says the credit unions have also asked the Central Bank for further guidance on short-term forbearance measures granted to people who are in danger of missing loan payments, to ensure their long-term credit rating is not negatively affected. Credit unions will engage fully with all members in difficulty, Mr Johnson says. He advises you make contact with your credit union and explain your situation.

The best way to do this at the moment would be via email or over the phone.


CUDA welcomes budget increases for home retrofit grants, but incentivising homeowners to use a combination of grants, loans and savings could be key to success of retrofits

By News

500,000 home retrofit target will not be reached unless the costs are affordable for average households, increases for SEAI grant schemes announced in todays budget are a very positive development but incentivising the use of surplus household savings may be an important piece of the puzzle

·         Credit Unions are best placed to become primary source of finance for nationwide retrofit project

·         A Government commitment for community schemes throughout Ireland will create thousands of jobs & reduce fuel poverty in households

The Credit Union Development Association [CUDA], that currently runs Ireland’s first end-to-end home retrofit scheme – ProEnergy Homes, has welcomed today’s budget announcement of an additional funding for SEAI grant schemes and the acknowledgement by Minister Eamon Ryan that this will be delivered primarily through community organisations like credit unions. This announcement is a major achievement for the SEAI and allows them to build on the work they have been doing over many years.

In 2019, 25 Credit Unions nationally piloted the ProEnergy Homes scheme. Under this approach, a national project management firm (REIL) was appointed to oversee all surveys and works, grant funding of 35% was available from SEAI for all qualifying works and low rate financing was made available for the balance of costs through the applicant’s local credit union.  CUDA reported at the time that public demand for the scheme was enormous, demonstrating people’s appetite for a ‘one-stop-shop’ model.

Following a review of the pilot scheme, CUDA determined that while the public demand for this model is high, in order to meet the Government’s target to retrofit 500,000 homes and bring them to a B2 energy rating by 2030, analysing the affordability of retrofit projects for the average household will be vital.  CUDA say in their experience of running ProEnergy Homes, the average costs per household run to approximately €30,000 – €40,000 to bring homes to B2 energy rating. The most popular measures undertaken in 2019 were external wall insulation, new glazing. Multi zone boiler controls also proved very popular.

SEAI grants will fund a generous 35% of the costs, but many homeowners will still be left with a bill of roughly €26,000 for their retrofit. While many credit unions will offer preferential finance rates for home retrofits (around 6.9% unsecured or 4.9% when backed by shares); financing retrofits over 5 years will see repayments of around €500 per month, which is still out of reach for many middle-income families.

One possible solution could be to incentivise homeowners to use some of their savings to lower the costs of financing the works. Central Bank data shows that Irish households have saved an additional €10bn this year alone with household savings now standing at record levels. Encouraging homeowners to use some of their savings, say by toping up any savings used in a fashion similar to the Help to Buy Scheme, would make home retrofits much more accessible for the average family.

For example, with costs of €40,000 to get a home to a B2 rating, grants will cover €14,000 leaving €26,000 to be covered by the homeowner. If they have managed to build up some additional savings that they can use, say €10,000 and were incentivised to use these with a 10% or €1,000 top up, the amount to be financed falls to €15,000. Financing this over 5 years would see monthly repayments of around €295 which is very typical of average home improvement loan repayments for Irish households.

Using some of the savings they have built up would allow a homeowner not only to retrofit their home and take advantage of all the benefits that brings in terms of ongoing savings for home heating, home comfort and health, but would also significantly reduce the cost of credit for the portion of the costs being financed. Making retrofits more affordable and accessible for middle income families also brings major benefits for the broader economy as greater uptake of energy retrofits has the potential to create thousands of jobs over the coming decade.

While the cross-Departmental Retrofit Taskforce will develop a new long-term national retrofit delivery model, CUDA believes that several measures should be put in place immediately and have communicated these to Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Eamon Ryan.

  1. Homeowners should be encouraged to use some of their savings toward the project rather than having to rely solely on credit.
  2. No group is better positioned than credit unions to support retrofitting plans in local communities across Ireland.
  3. There is a pressing need to develop a training programme for local tradespeople across the country so that more local workers would be able to carry on the necessary home improvements to the required standards for homeowners availing of schemes.
  4. The government should continue to fully support multi-annual grant budgets for the SEAI so that retrofitting schemes can operate unencumbered year-round.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA explained their position

While we are hugely supportive of the Minister in relation to the massive undertaking of retrofitting 500 thousand homes and commend the important announcement in the budget today, we believe that certain simple changes are necessary if the target is to be achieved. We have been engaging with the Minister in relation to these issues as we truly believe that the expansion of the ProEnergy Homes scheme will boost local communities at their time of need and have tangible and meaningful socio-economic benefits. Recent reports suggest retrofitting homes to bring them to a B2 energy rating standard or above, could significantly reduce fuel poverty*. It could also see the creation of 1000s of construction sector jobs if run efficiently and taken up on a large scale.

As the trusted provider of financial services in communities throughout Ireland, credit unions are uniquely positioned to support the delivery of a one-stop-shop model for home energy retrofits. We understand that for many households the past few months have been incredibly difficult and will unfortunately remain difficult for some time. However, some households have been in a fortunate position to build up savings this year and this is borne out in record savings inflows to credit unions since March. At a time when the interest rates and dividends available on these savings will be at or near zero, investing in a home retrofit could make a lot of sense. Combining some savings with a low rate loan will make the monthly repayments very affordable and there are many benefits; lower heating bills, a more comfortable home and the opportunity to support local tradespeople.

The announcement of the [Training\apprenticeship Programme] is an incredibly important initiative so that local tradespeople can be upskilled to complete works to the higher standards expected when retrofitting a residential house to B2 rating. As community organisations, credit unions are anxious to support local tradespeople, but too few have been trained to the standards expected on deep retrofits. Upskilling existing tradespeople nationally would allow for the creation of panels across the country that will support local economies while ensuring competition keeps prices and exchequer funding to a minimum.



Fuel Poverty is described as spending at least 10% of a household income on keeping a home warm

CUDA Welcomes Reduction in Levies

By News

CUDA welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Finance of reductions in the 2021 levies for both the Credit Institution Resolution Levy [down c6%] and the Credit Union Stabilisation Levy [down c90%].  In particular, we appreciate Minister Donohoe’s decision to heed our concerns in relation to the Stabilisation Fund levy.

While CUDA continues to support the purpose of a Stabilisation Fund, as it currently stands it has yet to be claimed against as it is both difficult and costly to access.  CUDA did propose that the target size of the Fund should now be regarded as succeeded and therefore the levy be set at 0%, and we requested the Minister to carry out a review of the Scheme to see how it might be improved.

We look forward to its criteria and status being included in the upcoming Review of the Policy Framework for Credit Unions under the Programme for Government.

CUDA Partners with Initiative Ireland to Launch New Housing Fund Backed by Irish Credit Unions

By News

Dublin, Ireland, 30 August 2020, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, today welcomed the announcement by Initiative Ireland and CUDA, the Credit Union Development Agency, of their plan to launch a new social and affordable housing fund supported by the Credit Unions of Ireland.   

Expected to launch later this year, the new fund will enable Credit Unions from across Ireland to avail of recent regulatory changes which empower the Credit Unions to lend to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) through a regulated fund.

Initiative Ireland, which specialises in funding social and affordable housing developments nationwide, will act as an Investment Advisor to the fund, sourcing and managing projects with Approved Housing Bodies.

CUDA with membership of over 50 credit unions nationwide, which manage over €7 billion in assets, will lead engagement with member credit unions as a sub-adviser, with the expectation that the fund will deploy over €300 million per annum on behalf of Credit Unions to deliver over 1,000 new homes per annum.

Minister Darragh O’Brien TD said, “I would like to commend the partnership between Initiative Ireland and the Credit Union Development Association which will see the creation of social and affordable homes by our AHBs. This strategy has significant potential to make a real impact to Credit Unions, Approved Housing Bodies and ultimately the lives of people across the country.”

Kevin Johnson, CEO, CUDA said, “Through this new fund our members will play a key role in supporting an increase in supply of much-needed housing nationwide. The fund will provide competitive finance to Approved Housing Bodies which play a key role in the delivery of social housing today. As not-for-profit enterprises, they purchase and commission new social housing for long-term lease back to local county councils.”

“This activity is vital in promoting and enabling the construction of social housing nationwide. We hope to offer an ongoing sustainable and affordable source of funding for Housing Bodies and in turn credit unions will have the opportunity to deploy their members savings into a conservative, sustainably managed strategy.”

Padraig W. Rushe, CEO, Initiative Ireland said, “As a social impact finance specialist, we are committed to strategies that deliver clear societal and environmental impact and promote financial inclusion. Over the last five years, we’ve worked with our impact investor community to deliver social and affordable housing projects across the country. Our partnership with CUDA is the logical next step, as we look to increase the scale of that impact.” 

Initiative Ireland, headquartered at NovaUCD and supported by Enterprise Ireland, was founded in 2015 with the goal of providing increased financial inclusion, competition, and sustainability to the Irish Finance Market.

To date the firm has provided finance to developers and approved housing bodies in support of smaller scale projects, financed by their peer-to-peer impact investor community comprising of Funds, Corporates, Pensions and Private Investors.

All loans are secured with a first legal charge over the properties and loans are managed from end-to-end by Initiative Ireland as the loan agent. This new strategy will increase the scale of lending they will be able to offer, specifically aiding the expansion strategies of Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies nationwide.

Sinead Byrne, COO, Initiative Ireland said, “As a values-based finance company, we’re committed to providing honest, fair and inclusive finance to deliver social good and fair returns. We’re delighted to announce our partnership with CUDA and Irish Credit Unions which were also founded on those principles and we look forward to building on that relationship over the coming years.” 

LTR Kevin Johnson (CEO of CUDA), Minister Darragh O’Brien TD, Sinead Byrne (COO of Initiative Ireland) and Padraig W. Rushe (CEO of Initiative Ireland).

CUDA welcomes new Minister for State with specific Credit Union responsibility

By News

Credit Unions contact the new Minister offering support for rebuilding the economy at local and national level

Credit unions have warmly welcomed the appointment of Seán Fleming TD as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance.

Commenting on the appointment, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA,

We welcome the appointment of Minister Fleming and as he works through the extremely difficult challenges in his role, we believe that credit unions can play a vital role in supporting him and his Government colleagues with the rebuilding of Ireland’s economy. 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 Fleming to further broaden the financial support that credit unions can offer members and their local communities.

We have written to Minister Fleming to share with him 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”.

CUDA welcomes first Minister with specific Credit Union responsibility

By News, Representation

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.”

Covid-19 Recovery Bond

By News

Credit Unions support the ordinary saver in accordance with their statutory object – to promote thrift among its members by the accumulation of their savings. This will continue, indeed funds are flowing into credit unions as they are highly trusted.

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