2007 Results for Credit Unions Show Continued Growth in Loans, Savings and Assets (NI)

Media Release: 11 April 2008

(Media Release: 11th April 2008 — Northern Ireland)

“Credit Unions are celebrating 50 years serving communities throughout Ireland”
Uel Adair (President, Irish League of Credit Unions)

“Credit Unions continue to meet demands of members with affordable rates of interest, relevant products and flexible, personal service”
John O’Halloran (Acting CEO, Irish League of Credit Unions)

The Irish League of Credit Unions today (11th April 2008) launched its Annual Report for 2007, in the presence of Mark Durkan MP MLA, Chairman of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Select Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, at the offices of Derry Credit Union, the first Credit Union established in Northern Ireland.

The ILCU is the representative body for 521 credit unions on the island of Ireland.

Its 2007 Annual Report shows that growth in the movement continues — as it has done over the past 50 years. With almost 3 million members in all corners of Ireland, credit unions are leading providers of financial services throughout the island. And at £600m are by far Ireland’s leading provider of social finance.

2007 Results Show Continued Growth in Savings, Loans and Assets of Credit Unions

Savings: A 1.5% increase in members’ savings, now up to £10.7 billion,

demonstrates the continuing trust and belief of communities and individuals throughout Ireland in the credit union movement. Over 78% of credit unions paid dividends to members last year of between 2% and 3.99% — with a further 4.1% of credit unions paying between 4% and 5.99%. Average savings per member in 2007 were £3,696.00.

Loans: Members’ loans are up 5% from 2006 to £5.8 billion.

Independent research last Autumn confirmed that the general public trusts credit unions, not only because they are not-for-profit co-operatives, but also because of the value they offer their members — no hidden charges or fees and flexible terms and conditions.

In Northern Ireland, the average credit union loan at the end of 2007 was £3,140 (up 3% from 2006).

Assets: Total assets for the movement as a whole are up 2.7% at £12.1 billion in 2007

- confirming the strength of the credit union movement and its enormous potential for future positive developments.

“It is also good to report that credit unions in 2007 further reduced their level of bad debt” Uel Adair said.

Credit Unions Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Movement in Ireland

Speaking at today’s Annual Report launch, President Uel Adair recognised the achievements of the movement since its establishment in 1958. “As the movement marks its fiftieth anniversary there are significant challenges that face credit unions. Equally there is so much to celebrate” he said.

“No one would have predicted the extraordinary success of this movement. The values and the services of the credit union movement in Ireland are, as every independent survey tells us, enormously respected. This coming year should see both Registrars and Governments show their support for the work of credit unions, by enabling them develop with appropriate regulation and legislation implemented in a manner which is respectful of the 9,400 volunteers and 4,300 staff who work for and with the movement” he added.

New Product Introduction

There were a number of significant products, services and policy developments in Northern Ireland. The development of EFT, the introduction of direct social welfare payments to credit union members’ accounts and the initiation of Paypoint have facilitated a growth in services to members.

In addition 2007 saw the introduction of the new Easy Share Account. The welcome co-operation of the Registrar of Credit Unions in all of these areas was very important and enabled the ILCU move from concept to reality in a short period of time.

ILCU President Uel Adair said “A great deal of effort this year, assisted significantly by the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was put into seeking to redress the unequal treatment of Credit Unions in Northern Ireland, in comparison to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.”

ILCU Development Foundation Spends Over £0.8m in 2007

The Foundation Company run by ILCU, supports credit unions in developing countries namely Albania, Russia, Gambia, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia. As well as providing funding, technical assistance is also provided to enable credit union movements develop competently and prudently in these countries. As part of its strategy to improve its communication with Irish Credit Unions, a ‘new look’ website was launched during 2007.

ILCU Continues Its Nationwide Campaign Against Moneylenders

Following its very successful pilot programme in 2006, the ‘Keep the Wolves from the Door’ Campaign was extended throughout Credit Unions across Ireland in September 2007.

Moneylenders, both legal and illegal, charge very high rates of interest in providing credit to the vulnerable, the less well-off and the less financially-literate around the country.

As economic circumstances make life more difficult for those on low-incomes or social welfare, credit unions are concerned about the potential for even more people to succumb to the temptation of so-called ‘easy loans’ from moneylenders. “If you have money worries, please call in to your local credit union where you’ll get all the help you need” Uel Adair said.

ILCU Insurance Subsidiary ECCU Earns £1.36m Surplus for Credit Unions

This wholly owned, not-for-profit ILCU company provides life insurance products exclusively to credit unions at extremely competitive rates. It had another successful year: further lowering premiums charged to credit unions while also generating a surplus on its operations of £1.36m (currently being rebated to member credit unions).

“The continuing progress of ECCU in maintaining low premiums and generating surpluses for the movement underlines the member-focussed ethos of the League’s operations. The company returned to the movement 99% of gross premiums, reflecting the non-profit culture of ECCU, and its unique position as our insurance company” John O’Halloran (Acting CEO, ILCU) said.

ECCU’s life products (Loan Protection, Life Savings Protection) are paid for by credit unions themselves and provided to their members at no direct cost — a further practical and valuable benefit of credit union membership.

Mark Durkan Supporting the Work of the Credit Union Movement in Ireland

In thanking Mr. Durkan for his presence, and acknowledging his role in enabling the future development of the credit union movement in Northern Ireland through timely legislative reform, Uel Adair (President, ILCU) said “there is a recognition in the movement that change is required, change that will allow credit unions to develop at their own pace, but in a manner supported by an appropriate credit union infrastructure and a new enabling legislative structure”.

He added “How we do what we do for our members will change: why we do it will not. The level of service which our members will continue to enjoy into the future will fully live up to their expectations and demands”.

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