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Credit unions say they have €8.5bn for social housing

Credit unions have proposed investing €8.5bn of members’ deposits into a fund to develop social housing.

The Irish League of Credit Unions said it had been forced to put these funds into deposits with the State’s banks, earning little return. Some of the money is also in low-interest paying bonds.

Less than a third of the assets held by the 352 credit unions that make up the league is lent out to members in loans.

This meant that billions of euro of member funds had been put in bank accounts earning very low interest rates, league president Brian McCrory said in a briefing document given to TDs.

“Currently, the movement has around €8.5bn held in investments,” he said.

Credit unions want to be able to pump some of this money into a State-owned financial vehicle that would lend to approved housing bodies. Alternatively, credit unions could collectively lend directly to housing bodies.

This would put members’ funds to more productive use and address a key social issue.

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