Cork Credit Unions have €2bn to fund housing

Cork Credit Unions have €2bn to fund housing

CORK credit unions have a €2 billion war-chest and say their surplus funds can be used to help solve the social housing crisis.

Representatives of Cork credit unions and the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) held a special meeting with Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath in Cork this week to explain how surplus credit union funds could be used to build social housing, saying they stand ready to deliver.

The prospect of using credit union funds for large-scale social housing projects moved a step closer yesterday when the Central Bank confirmed that they will be allowed to invest in social housing projects under new regulations.

Credit union delegates have outlined the scale of the credit union movement in Cork. Local credit unions have €2.35bn in assets and membership in the area has hit 435,000. These members have savings of €1.95bn with their credit unions.

“Credit unions have had a longstanding, trustworthy and reliable presence in my constituency of Cork South-Central, as they have had across the island of Ireland,” Deputy McGrath said. “This has been a constructive meeting, and delegates made clear that there is an even greater role that credit unions can play in Cork.”

Credit unions have welcomed the Central Bank’s decision to allow them invest in social housing projects with Approved Housing Bodies.

“This will allow credit unions to provide significant funding to support the development of critically needed social housing in this country,” the Irish League of Credit Unions said in a statement.

“The remaining stumbling block is now the establishment of a financial vehicle as committed-to in Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness of July 2016. It is imperative that the establishment of this financial vehicle is prioritised so that credit unions can start at last to invest in social housing.”

ILCU vice president Gerry Thompson said: “I was delighted to host Michael McGrath TD at this meeting and to outline to him the much more credit unions can do.”

Credit union micro-loans for social welfare recipients was also discussed at the meeting.

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