Central Bank proposals would allow credit unions 'to offer home loans in a meaningful way'
The Central Bank has called for feedback on a report it has published outlining potential changes to the lending framework for credit unions.
Proposals listed in the document CP125 emerged following a review of the existing processes, which was undertaken this year.
According to the Central Bank, the proposals are to ensure the financial stability of credit unions and the protection of the funds of its members.
The proposed amendments include the removal of lending maturity limits which cap the percentage of credit union lending which may be outstanding for periods of greater than five and ten years.
An introduction of concentration limits, on a tiered basis, for home mortgage and commercial loans expressed as a percentage of total assets has also been mooted.
The report also seeks to clarify the scope and parameters for commercial lending, to reflect credit union focus on local owner managed business lending.
Registrar of Credit Unions Patrick Casey, said that the proposals support diversification in credit union loan portfolios.
"Revisions would allow those credit unions with sufficient financial strength, competence and capability, to undertake additional home mortgage and commercial lending.
"For long term lending, we emphasise the need for the boards of credit unions to ensure that they understand the risks involved, including financial, regulatory and consumer impacts.
"They must also understand how long term lending fits within their credit union’s lending strategy, risk framework and capabilities."
The consultation is open until 9 January 2019.
Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) CEO Ed Farrell said it has long campaigned for a review of the "restrictive, long-term lending limits imposed on the credit union movement".
"It is now more crucial than ever that the lending limits are amended to enable credit unions to offer home loans in a meaningful way. While credit unions have always held a significant share of the consumer lending market, essentially this represents just 13pc of overall household lending," he said.
"We have been keenly aware of the need to expand our reach in the residential mortgage market in order to ensure credit union members, and consumers in general, are benefiting from real competition and diversity. We can only become significant players in the mortgage market with an amendment to the current lending limits."
CEO of Credit Union Development Association Kevin Johnson said that almost €43m in mortgage lending has been processed sinceCUDA launched its mortgage solution.
"Recent research found that over 59pc of credit union members would consider switching their mortgage to a credit union if a better deal was offered. It should provide credit union members with greater options when become homeowners within their own communities," he said.