MORE than 5,000 people in Cork may be set to lose a credit union funeral grant which could leave many families without the funds to bury their loved ones.
Councillor Thomas Gould (SF) said he has been contacted by concerned members of Gurranabraher Credit Union regarding a letter sent to members in recent weeks.
They have been informed that new Central Bank rules stipulate that 50% of members must pay a premium to avail of the Death Grant Scheme in order for the service to be continued to be offered.
Currently, only 36% of members of approximately 15,000 are doing so at the credit union, meaning the scheme could be closed on November 30 if the figure doesn’t rise to half.
The Echo has contacted Gurranabraher Credit Union but has not received a response to requests for comment.
Previously, members who paid €20 premium would receive €4,000 towards the cost of their funeral if they died within a year.
Adjustments to the scheme saw the figure paid out reduced to €3250 and the annual premium paid by members rise to €30.
Mr Gould said many families on the northside of the city are relying on the grant should a loved one pass away and he has made contact with the credit union to ask them to extend the closing date by a further two weeks.
“Gurranabraher Credit Union has written to all the members and about 33% replied. The ending of the grant was extended for a further two weeks and they got it up to 36%,” said Mr Gould.
“Over the last week, I have been contacted by people who didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation. A lot of people who wouldn’t have life insurance would use this grant to bury themselves. I know people who would be depending on that money so their loved ones can bury them.
“I have asked the credit union to extend the date because this is a service that credit unions want to give. It’s very important. The coverage has gone down in recent years but €3,250 is a good amount to cover funeral expenses.
“It has long been one of the reasons people stay in the credit union even if they weren’t getting loans. I know people that have stayed in credit unions and haven’t moved their money to banks for this grant alone. It is incredible value.
“The credit union does fabulous work in the community, with sporting organisations and community groups. They are at the heart of everything int terms of sponsorship. I would ask them to extend the date for an additional two weeks because I think people are only understanding the severity of it now,” Mr Gould added.
The service is not offered by all credit unions.