The Government must do it all it can to help credit unions grow given the essential services they provide to people in our communities, according to Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne.
Senator Maria Byrne, Fine Gael’s Seanad Finance Spokesperson, said: “Credit unions are at the heart of every community and offer a range of services to their members including, loans, savings, current accounts, debit cards, apps and online banking.
“With the withdrawal of KBC and Ulster Bank from the Irish market, we are once again reminded of the importance of credit unions for individuals, businesses and our farming community who now require new accounts and financial services closer to home.
“The loan-to-asset ratio in the credit union movement is currently at about 27%, and a key issue for credit unions is not a shortage of savings but a shortage of loan applications, so they should be encouraged and assisted to lend more to members.
“State investment should also be available to support credit unions in the expansion of services and to encourage community development.
“I also believe that lending restrictions should be eased more by the Central Bank so that credit unions can engage in long-term lending such as mortgage loans and SME loans.
“The Programme for Government contains four commitments for the credit union sector, which includes enabling the credit union movement to grow and growing credit unions’ lending books.
“A Review of the Policy Framework for the credit union sector has now been completed and proposals arising from the Review will go to Cabinet shortly for approval to draft legislation.
“The proposals being considered aim to better position credit unions to grow as a key provider of community banking and it is essential that any proposed legislation supports this aim.
“Fine Gael is determined to ensure balanced regional development across the country and an important element of that is making remote working an option for more people.
“Supporting fantastic credit union facilitates around the country will help revitalise towns and villages and it supports Fine Gael’s ambition to build stronger, safer communities nationwide,” Senator Byrne said.