The Government's Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness emphasises the need to look at new ways of funding social housing delivery, in particular, the need to provide structural, funding and policy supports to increase delivery of social housing by approved housing bodies. Against that background, credit union representative bodies put forward proposals for how credit unions could provide loan finance for approved housing bodies for social housing. In February, following the publication of a consultation paper and a period of consultation, the Registrar of Credit Unions who is responsible for regulatory oversight of credit unions amended the regulations to allow credit unions to invest in tier 3 approved housing bodies under certain conditions. Tier 3 approved housing bodies are the larger ones.
In May 2017 my Department announced that funding of €49,000 would be provided for the Irish Council for Social Housing, ICSH, to support an initiative through which it would develop proposals for special purpose vehicles and a mechanism that would enable the sector to attract investment in social housing projects from potential investors, including the credit union movement. Work has been ongoing between the ICSH, a number of larger tier 3 approved housing bodies and their financial advisers on the development of such a vehicle, taking account also of the recent EUROSTAT decision on the reclassification of the approved housing bodies sector. The ICSH anticipates that this work should be completed in the third quarter of the year. My Department and I have met the credit union movement on a number of occasions to discuss its wish to invest in social housing. The Department has also facilitated engagement between the credit union sector and the ICSH with a view to encouraging links between the two sectors and allowing credit unions to share the benefits of the work under way.
While it remains the case that the development of specific special purpose vehicles to enable the credit unions to make investments in the sector is a matter credit unions have to resolve, my Department will continue to be available to engage with the sector, as required.