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Q & A: Microloans


Kevin Humphreys: leading Microcredit scheme

Kevin Humphreys: leading Microcredit scheme

Tom Burke

Kevin Humphreys: leading Microcredit scheme

What is the Government planning to do?

Roll out a microloan scheme that will provide loans of up to €1,000 to 40,000 low- to middle-income families per year.

So, similar to the function offered by banks and moneylenders?

Yes and no. Those on very low incomes are often put off applying for bank loans because they fear they will be rejected.

This scheme will provide loans with interest rates of up to 12pc - far less than the extortionate rates charged by moneylenders. These are the type of companies the Government wants families to avoid, if possible.

But don't moneylenders ask very few questions and provide the cash required immediately?

That may be so. But many have developed a poor reputation in recent months and the Government now wants to provide an alternative avenue for credit.

Besides, moneylenders are in some cases charging customers interest rates of up to 188pc on loans. This scheme is about providing a viable alternative to moneylenders.

Okay, I'm interested. How do I get one of these microloans?

Through your local credit union or post office. The scheme will be rolled out on a pilot basis from September.

What about those on social welfare? How will the authorities prevent people from defaulting?

Social welfare customers will meet their repayments through the Household Budget Scheme, which many already use. This is a scheme administered by the post offices which involves deductions from the likes of rent being taken from social welfare payments before the money is paid.

Won't it mean that post offices and credit unions will scrutinise my credit history?

That will be part of the process but the criteria are unlikely to be as high as for other credit facilities administered by the likes of the banks.

I'm concerned I might take out a loan that I can't afford.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and St Vincent de Paul can provide advice.

Irish Independent