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credit union

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.

Ends

*

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 meets with ICURN – International Credit Union Regulators’ Network

By | Owner Members, Representation

The 2019 ICURN Peer Review of the Central Bank’s performance of its regulatory functions is currently underway. This review is assessing the legal, regulatory and prudential supervisory framework in place to fulfill the Central Bank’s responsibilities under Section 84 of the Credit Union Act, 1997 having regard to proportionality, nature, scale and complexity of credit unions operating in Ireland.

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Consumers & Minister’s advice at one in supporting Credit Union development

By | News

In 2016 the Minister’s Advisory Committee took the brave decision to review the implementation status of the recommendations made by the Commission on Credit Unions back in 2012 and reported specific areas where proposals were not introduced and may be negatively impacting credit unions’ business development.

Commenting on the report, Kevin Johnson CEO of CUDA said, “In recent years it has been widely reported that credit unions should develop their business models and grow income in a prudent manner and these proposals will contribute to that objective. This is supported by a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by iReach just before Christmas, which found that the majority or 74% of adults believe that Credit Unions could have either a big or some impact on the banking market in Ireland and should pool their resources to compete with banks.”

In welcoming this report, CUDA commended the work of CUAC, the Implementation Group and the stewardship provided by the Department of Finance. CUDA now hopes that the Registrar of Credit Unions will embrace the proposals contained in the report, in particular implement the proposals that will see credit unions with the skills and financial strength being permitted to provide more credit, and indeed making different forms of credit accessible to more people.

Kevin went on to say, “Credit unions have demonstrated incredible resilience throughout the recession, and this can be attributed to good governance and compliance with relevant regulation and sees them rightly occupy a position of a trusted advisor to their members. They have earned the right to have legislation and regulations that mirror this, in particular the lending proposals in the report including the basis of the calculation of permitted limits.”

CUDA has for some time advocated the position to set aside a one size fits all regulatory approach and endorse the proposal that when new regulations are being introduced the principle of not restricting any Credit Union from services, or limits, they can currently provide for their members, with automatic inclusion in higher tier for Credit Unions of a certain size and risk profile, and clarity in any approval process. CUDA also calls on all stakeholders to consider modernisation of credit union legislation, such as the common bond, to deal with anomalies that are unintentionally preventing some members, or potential members, access to credit union services.

CUDA will be communicating directly with current serving Government Ministers to reassure them of the prudence of all the proposals, as endorsed by their colleague and Minister for Finance, and how these are appropriate to allow more people experience the benefit of not-for-profit mandate of credit unions and their volunteer ethos and community focus, while giving due regard to the need to fully protect members’ savings and financial stability.

Note to the Editor

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, risk management, shared services and competency development.

Credit unions will use a proportion of €9bn in lending capacity to reduce SME lending costs

By | News

“Rapid growth in Credit Union lending expected to continue as Solution Centre rolls out enhanced Credit Union Business Model”

Responding to today’s launch of the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s Report entitled “ The Cost of doing Business ” and last week’s decision by the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Finance, not to support the establishment of a new local public banking system, CUDA (Credit Union Development Association), the representative and lobby group for Ireland’s largest credit unions, said that its 48 strong network of the more progressive credit unions can fill this void and provide the much needed competition to the banks.

Speaking at the launch today, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, which is also behind the Solution Centre – a collaborative initiative that supplies product development and business supports to the Credit Union sector to enable them to lend to non-core sectors,

“We welcome the excellent work of both Joint Committees and their recognition that the cost of doing business, particularly the cost of borrowing needs be brought down, and that priority should be given to working with the existing framework provided by credit unions and An Post networks nationwide. Credit unions are already playing an increasing role in the Irish retail financial sector and CUDA anticipates working closely with the Central Bank of Ireland to expand the product and services that credit union branches throughout the country can offer individual and business members.

While having enjoyed strong lending growth in 2017, our 48 member credit unions are forecasting rapid growth in 2018 & 2019.”

CUDA say that it has taken a leadership role in lobbying for and developing the changes that are essential for credit unions to meet the demands of the current financial landscape. Through the Solution Centre, they have introduced new products, and implemented new processes and systems that will deliver the benefits that the advocates for public community banking are seeking.”

Mr. Johnson continued,

“Credit Unions have the lending capacity and are developing the expertise to take an enhanced role in relation to lending to SMEs. In tandem with the accompanying management and advisory support structures offered by the Solution Centre, numerous credit unions throughout the country could provide loans to SME’s, say up to €75,000.”

Mr. Johnson concluded,

“Credit unions can be at the financial heartbeat of our indigenous economy and can create a platform for rural revival, and indeed urban stimulation. With 268 credit unions and billions of euro currently available to lend, credit unions are very well positioned to deliver this service.”

Ends

 

Note to the Editor

The Solution Centre

A group of the country’s strongest credit unions established the Solutions Centre, a FinTech facilitated by CUDA, which supplies product development and business supports to the Credit Union sector and has embarked on an ambitious business transformation programme for the sector, of which mortgages is just one milestone.

Rather than simply replicating the actions of banks, the Solution Centre believes that credit unions have the flexibility and adaptability to quickly adopt new ways of doing business that will see a re-building of their market share. Credit Unions participating in our digital loan marketing programme have seen loan growth of 10-20% in a relatively short space of time, with minimal investment. It’s clear the movement’s leading credit unions have embarked on a transformative digital journey.

With 48 of the larger and more progressive credit unions, representing one third of credit unions members, coming together under the Solution Centre umbrella – we now have a structure to facilitate credit unions to achieve their goal of continuing as consumer-owned co-operatives, while delivering much needed new products and services to their members.

 

CUDA

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, risk management, shared services and competency development.

CUDA Welcomes CUAC Report

By | News

 CUDA welcomes CUAC report

 Modernising Credit Union Lending rules will deliver real value in mortgages and personal loans

The representative body for Credit Unions CUDA has welcomed the publication of the CUAC report which reviewed the implementation of the recommendations in the Commission on Credit Unions.

Commenting on the findings, Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA, “The report highlights the long overdue need to review the current credit union lending limits. Modernising these will deliver better value for consumers in personal loans, mortgages and other financial services areas, something that the Government acknowledges is sorely missing in our economy.

We are also pleased to see our call has been listened to – we have long been advocating for a change in the outdated long-term lending limits to more accurately reflect consumer demands and the current financial environment”.

CUDA has also strongly campaigned for changes to be implemented that will allow Credit Unions to immediately provide funds for social and affordable housing, thereby helping to meet the serious supply problems facing prospective home buyers.

Kevin went on to explain, “Fundamentally, Credit Unions offering a full range of account and financial services, from personal loans to mortgages and savings to pensions, will drive greater competition. This will lead to lower cost products which can only be good for all consumers and which is all but absent from the market at the moment. We look forward to working with the proposed Implementation Group to make this a reality.”

The representative body say that an aspect of the report that struck them was that “the need for leadership at the centre and an understanding of the risks involved in longer-term lending were flagged by the Central Bank as areas of concern for credit unions seeking to move in this direction.”

Kevin commented, “This is something we are firmly behind and we have made great strides in this regard with the establishment of the “Solution Centre” which facilitates collaboration, innovation and business development”.

The Solution Centre, which is open to all credit unions, comprises a selection of the country’s strongest credit unions and is a hothouse unit developing specialist products, supports and solutions.

Kevin went on to say, “We have already delivered a number of projects that were drawn from the objectives of participating Credit Unions strategic plans. One of the first of these products will be supporting a mortgage offering which is expected to be available in August to participating credit unions representing approximately 25% of credit union members”.

CUDA says the report also correctly acknowledges the great work of all stakeholders which is resulting in ever strengthening Credit Unions.

Kevin concluded, “We thank the CUAC for the thoughtful consideration they have given to our proposals. Credit Unions continue to grow their market share of the consumer loan market and, now with strong capital, stronger governance and greater capabilities, they are fantastically positioned to broaden the range of services they offer to current and potential members”.

Election 2016 – Credit Union Manifesto

By | Uncategorised

The value that credit unions bring to Ireland is rooted in the simple co-operative business model of local people saving together and lending to other constituency members at affordable interest rates, and any evaluation of credit unions must be an overall positive one.

 Since 1958 Credit Unions have improved the lives of millions of Irish people, they are poised to do so much more – your local credit union needs your help to deliver for your constituents.

As an election candidate do you want to help the credit union movement help more people? If yes, see below for what you can do…

  1. Ensure the uniqueness of the credit union model is not sacrificed to strengthen banks – end generic laws and rules that do not recognise the local credit union difference;
    • Establish a ‘Select Sub-Committee on Credit Unions’ to consider legislation, policy and related matters;
    • Prevent the erosion of our credit union model by ensuring EU rules transposed in Ireland are appropriate for credit unions;
    • Ensure introduction of proportionate regulations as required by law – appropriate tiered regulation that is realistic, flexible, attainable and operational;
  2. Enhance the Credit Union Act ‘97 to allow credit unions lend to Housing Bodies for Social Housing;
  3. Include credit unions in State backed initiatives, such as the credit guarantee scheme, and let them support SMEs;
  4. Help modernise membership communication by reforming requirements for how member engagement must happen;
  5. Ensure micro-management by Regulators permits fair competition for members
    • who wish to use their credit union for their savings,
    • who want their credit union to provide more longer term credit such as home loans;
  6. Introduce a Rulebook that transparently sets out processes for all regulatory engagements.

For more information, contact CUDA at info@cuda.ie or 01 4693715.

Sunday Independent – Kevin Johnson, CUDA CEO – 3rd January 2016

By | News

Indo logo

Credit unions must be trusted, not subjected to the dead hand of the State

The new tiered regulations will lead to better-value banking services for all, writes Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

PUBLISHED     03/01/2016

Since its foundation in 1958, the credit union system has flourished in Ireland, both in urban and rural communities. The value that credit unions bring to Ireland is rooted in the simple co-operative business model of people saving together and lending to each other at affordable interest rates.

Despite the lip service paid to the ideal of preserving credit union uniqueness, we fear that uniqueness will be steadily chipped away over time and ultimately lost, unless clear steps are taken and constant vigilance is maintained to ensure that the rules evolve with the diverse needs of ordinary people.

There has to be appropriate rules for each type of financial institution. Similarly, there have to be appropriate rules proportionate to the nature, scale and complexity of each credit union, as recommended by the Commission on Credit Unions.

The blueprint for the future of credit unions in Ireland was set out in the Commission’s report, published back in April 2012. This was a comprehensive set of recommendations, including a tiered regulatory framework, which was endorsed by all the stakeholders involved, including credit union representative bodies and the Central Bank.

The Commission’s report provided a factual insight into the financial position of credit unions; it looked at international best practice and presented its views on where the credit union movement in Ireland should be headed.

It went on to make proposals for stabilising and restructuring the sector and for strengthening the legislative and regulatory frameworks, including an improved governance regime. This was adopted as government policy, resulting in the Credit Union Act of 2012.

Our ongoing concern, as expressed by us and other key stakeholders throughout 2015, is that the Central Bank seems determined to implement regulations in a manner inconsistent with the spirit and intent of what was agreed. On top of all the new costly responsibilities that credit unions had to implement, the Central Bank was imposing further restrictions on all credit unions.

These limit how much people can save in their credit union and, critically, the nature and term of lending that credit unions can provide.

Recently, the Minister for Finance commenced the remaining sections of the 2012 Act which activated these regulations.

In doing so, Mr Noonan confirmed that he instructed the Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC) to carry out a review of the implementation of the recommendations set out in the report of the Commission on Credit Unions. This will commence immediately and conclude in June 2016.

While it must be recognised that this review should not be necessary, it is clear that it is needed. Unfortunately for consumers, it would have been more practical to see it conducted before the new regulations were effected. However, it presents a chance to get back on track with the blueprint for the future of credit unions in Ireland as originally set out.

The Registrar of Credit Unions has now confirmed that some credit unions will be allowed apply to accept deposits of over €100,000. While this will be welcomed by all large credit unions, and particularly by those credit unions that have built scale following a merger, the real benefits will flow to consumers as this is a first step in the establishment of tiered regulation.

Tiered regulation, done properly, will allow some credit unions to continue to offer basic savings and loans, while allowing other credit unions to develop and offer a greater range of services as long as they have what is necessary to manage the additional inherent risks.

Credit unions need to be allowed to compete with banks. For example, restricting them to solely competing with money lenders is doing consumers a huge disservice.

When it comes to global best practice, the Canadian credit union movement is one of the best, delivering low-cost bank-competing products to millions of members. Their success is based on the fact that they are organisations inspired by the community and working for the community. Their ethos is identical to Irish credit unions, but their regulation, operations and success for consumers are vastly different.

Fundamentally, credit unions offering a full range of account and financial services, from debit card to mortgages to pensions, will drive greater competition, something that is sorely lacking in Ireland at the moment.

We see real potential to replicate much of that model, which could see credit unions across Ireland prudently lend a further €7bn in short, medium and long-term finance.

This is good for consumers on so many levels – apart from ensuring fair interest rates and fees in the market, it allows people to be part of a highly networked community focused on economic, social and environmental change.

For any government – sitting or potential – to be taken seriously in its stated goal of preserving the ethos and philosophy of credit unions, we feel it must demonstrate that regulation is about balance: on the one hand ensuring that consumers have access to basic financial services on competitive terms, while on the other hand, ensuring that the provider does so without taking on too much risk.

Unfortunately, in the last few years, the pendulum had swung too far to over-zealous regulation.

The vast majority of credit unions are financially sound, compliant, competent and ready to provide more services to more people.

The acknowledgment of the role of tiered regulation will enable most, but particularly those with scale and expertise to offer the services that their members rightly expect from a modern credit union.

Kevin Johnson is chief executive officer of the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA)

Sunday Indo Business

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/credit-unions-must-be-trusted-not-subjected-to-the-dead-hand-of-the-state-34331204.html