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Press Release

Minister Donohoe welcomes ongoing work of the Credit Union sector to support members in difficulty due to COVID-19

Published: 23 March 2020
From: Department of Finance

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Monday) welcomed the ongoing work of the credit union sector to support members in difficulties due to COVID-19. The government continues to support credit unions as a provider of key services to their members, including access to income, savings, credit, and to payment services.

“Today, I had a constructive conference call with representatives of the credit union sector, who collectively manage €5.1 billion of personal lending and are a core element of community banking in Ireland.

I welcome the ongoing work that is taking place to assist members who are impacted by COVID-19, which will build on the government’s call for solidarity and community spirit which is synonymous with credit unions. Led by volunteer directors, credit unions have a strong track record of delivering real support to their members in difficult times.”

Support for credit union members

The credit union sector’s approach to supporting members whose income has been impacted by COVID-19 is to be welcomed. Credit unions are volunteer led and member-focused, and will endeavor to offer flexible arrangements that cater for the different impacts of COVID-19 on each individual member.

Credit unions are working tirelessly to address member concerns with regard to the availability of credit. Members facing difficulties due to COVID-19 are urged to contact their credit union as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements that will assist them through this difficult period.

Credit union representatives have confirmed that they will work to ensure that these supports are made available to borrowers in an easily accessible manner and aligned to the processes rolled out by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Actions to ensure operational continuity

The Minister acknowledges the extensive work that has been ongoing across the credit union sector to ensure continuity of services to their members. The Minister would also like to acknowledge the health and safety risks front line staff are facing every day to ensure members continue to receive the support they need.

The Minister supports close cooperation between the representative bodies and credit unions, especially in areas where they can share resources and expertise.

Members are urged to engage with their credit unions as much as possible through digital and telephone channels. Credit unions will be as flexible as possible for members who cannot use digital or telephone services. If a face to face meeting is absolutely necessary, an appointment will be made by their credit union.

Credit unions operating debit cards will increase the contactless limit to €50, in line with other industry participants.

Stakeholder Engagement

Officials from the Department of Finance will chair a weekly conference call with credit union representatives to ensure smooth information flow between the sector and Government. The Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC) is also available to advise the Minister for Finance on credit union matters, if required.

The Registrar of Credit Unions in the Central Bank will continue to actively engage with the credit union sector where regulatory issues arise. The Registrar and his team will hold weekly conference calls with credit union representatives to ensure smooth information flow between the sector and the regulator.

The Minister committed his support to the collaborative effort from all stakeholders to ensure all necessary steps are taken to continue the provision of important credit union services to members.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Conference Call Participants

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA), the Credit Union Managers Association (CUMA) and the National Supervisors Forum (NSF).

The Credit Union Sector

As at 30 September 2019, the credit union sector had a combined membership of c. 3.4 million members across 241 credit unions, total assets of €18.3 billion, loan balances of €5.1 billion and average reserves averaged 16.5%