I thank the Deputy for his good wishes. I propose to take Questions Nos. 5, 7 and 67 together.
The Government recognises the key role that credit unions play in the delivery of financial services to local communities across Ireland, the need for which is now heightened. Credit unions account for approximately one third of the consumer credit market and are well positioned to provide credit to support our recovery.
The economic outlook arising by virtue of Covid-19, including reduced demand for new lending, has increased the challenges the sector is already facing.
As a result it was agreed that the credit union advisory committee would report to me on challenges and opportunities for the sector, including the consequences of Covid-19, and any relevant recommendations. I understand this report is complete and I expect to have it in a few days' time.
Several commitments in the programme for Government relate to credit unions. These will be expanded upon in the coming weeks and months by the new Government, taking into account work already completed such as the credit union advisory committee report noted earlier and a separate report on directors which was finalised in February 2020. I will take into consideration the report submitted to me by the organisation referred to by the Deputies in their questions and the views of other key stakeholders.
The questions also referred to social housing. Since 1 March 2018, credit unions have been permitted to invest in tier 3 approved housing bodies for the provision of social housing through a regulated investment vehicle. This could be up to the value of €700 million. As such, the Government and the Central Bank have now fulfilled their roles and it is up to both the credit union and social housing sectors to develop any specific funding mechanisms. I will, however, continue to engage with the credit union movement on this matter and on mechanisms that may enable a vehicle to be established to invest in AHBs.
More broadly in terms of engagement with the credit unions in recent weeks I have had two separate opportunities to meet all leaders of the credit union movement in Ireland to deal with and understand some of the issues Deputy Nash referred to. It is my intention to speak to them again, maybe as soon as next week, to continue to understand the impact of Covid-19 on their movement and the kind of issues we need to consider as a result.