Local SDLP Councillor Laura Devlin has spoken out following an announcement from Stormont as a new dawn awaits the Credit Union movement. DETI Minister Minister Arlene Foster indicated she is launching a consultation on credit unions with the view of developing their services.
Cllr Devlin said: “I totally support the Credit Union in their goal to expand their services. We are all too aware of the financial difficulties in our communities and the devastating impact that debt can have on families.
“The Credit Union in my area provides a first class service to people – especially those in the rural community. We have all seen the dramatic closures of banks across all our towns and the impact that this had on many – especially the older population.
“We need local banking and the Credit Union is best placed to provide that, as Credit Unions are established by the community and for the community; they are managed fairly and responsibly; and they are run by local people who are primarily accountable to local people, namely, their members
“The credit union movement is seeking approximately £860,000 per year for five years to cover start-up costs for 75 credit unions, to enable them to offer current accounts, debit cards, inward and outward payments, direct debits and standing orders. Financial support is also needed to access the technical infrastructure as well as business planning, training, staffing and IT security.
“I hope that the Departmental officials work with the credit union movement towards an appropriate package of financial support that can be presented to the Executive to enable credit unions to fill the void left by bank closures and provide responsible, affordable lending.”
The announcement at Stormont by DETI Minister Artlene Foster has announced the launch of a public consultation on proposed updates to the legislation applying to credit unions and industrial and provident societies.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment proposes to request the Northern Ireland Assembly to make new primary legislation for credit unions and industrial and provident societies in Northern Ireland.
Minister Foster said: “Credit unions and industrial and provident societies have, for a long time, made a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. Recent reforms undertaken by my Department have allowed Northern Ireland credit unions to expand the range of services they offer, ensured that members’ savings are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and given members access to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
“It is essential that these societies operate within the most appropriate legislative framework following these reforms. This consultation seeks views on possible updates to the key legislation governing Northern Ireland credit unions and industrial and provident societies.”
The Minister added: “These suggested updates reflect legislative developments elsewhere in the UK, but it is important that stakeholders in Northern Ireland contribute to a legislative landscape that reflects local circumstances.
“I would therefore encourage all stakeholders to contribute to the development of this legislation, and I look forward to hearing their views.”