Kildare TD seek wider role for credit unions

Credit union funds should be used for social housing says Deputy Patricia Ryan

Henry Bauress

Reporter:

Henry Bauress

Email:

henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare TD seek wider role for credit unions

Kildare South Sinn Féin TD Patricia Ryan

 Kildare South TD, Patricia Ryan, has called for a wider role in the banking system for credit unions.

Deputy Ryan also said we should utilise credit union funds to support the building of social housing. We should create a mechanism by which credit unions could invest in social housing.

Speaking in the Dáil last week during a debate on a bill to allow Credit Unions to hold online AGM’s, the Sinn Feinn TD said:  “We need to give the credit unions a greater role in our banking system. They are embedded in our communities and are best placed to help the local areas of which they are an integral part. Credit unions should be given greater capacity to provide mortgages. We need to legislate for a more ambitious future-proofed vision of mortgage lending. This should include a change to the current regulatory position to allow credit unions to operate a more centralised investment model that would allow them to pool their resources to develop community bank mortgages open to all members who meet the lending criteria. This would allow home loans to comprise 20% of the total credit union loan book, thereby offering a more member-friendly solution for credit unions that wish to expand their mortgage lending. This would contrast with the commercial banks, where between 55% and 75% of the loan books comprise mortgage loans.”


Deputy Ryan said we should utilise credit union funds to support the building of social housing. “We should create a mechanism by which credit unions could invest in social housing. This would allow the credit union sector to invest up to €900 million in the provision of social housing and fund close to 6,500 badly needed new homes.

Deputy Ryan said  credit unions could play a very important role in helping the country to meet its climate change targets if it were possible to provide funding for a national retrofitting programme. “The Government has committed to retrofitting 500,000 homes by 2030 at an estimated cost of €5 billion. Credit unions are  well-positioned to support this programme by leveraging their assets to provide funding.”


Deputy Ryan also said we need to empower our credit unions to participate more fully in SME lending. “Legislative changes will be required to ensure such sectoral lending is feasible. This would allow all credit unions that wish to participate in such lending to do so. The proposal to pool resources among credit unions also fits with the concept of a credit union-led community banking model. This legislation, the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is about allowing credit unions to adapt to the current pandemic. We need to ensure that our credit unions are to the forefront of this economy, rather than an afterthought.”