The Programme for a Partnership Government recognised the potential role that credit unions can play in housing finance and supported the efforts of the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank to gradually lift current lending restrictions as appropriate, including for housing.
Credit Union bodies have set out proposed means by which funding could be provided by Credit Unions to Approved Housing Bodies for the development of social housing. This follows on from the amendments introduced by the Central Bank to the regulatory regime within which Credit Unions operate.
Along with my colleague, Minister Murphy, and officials from my Department and the Department of Finance, I have met with the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) and the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) to examine how their sector can assist in the area of financing social housing delivery. Throughout the discussions with the Credit Unions’ representative bodies, my Department has emphasised that while it can provide technical assistance regarding the mechanisms for funding social housing, which it has provided, it is a matter for the Credit Unions themselves to set up special purpose vehicles to enable them to invest in the sector. For this reason, my Department referred the Credit Unions’ representative bodies to the Irish Council for Social Housing with a view to both sectors sharing, as far as practical, the benefits of their respective work in this area, including the work being undertaken by the ICSH on the development of special purpose vehicles for social housing financing purposes, supported by grant funding from my Department.
It is a matter for both parties to progress these engagements, which I hope can lead to a workable, mutually acceptable approach to moving forward on this issue.