Introduction

We have recently launched our new creditunion website and some of the new features we have included are Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter and this our Presidents Blog.





I hope to maintain a regular blog here, where we can share inclusive and informative debates on how we can progress in terms of services.





Martin Sisk

President

ILCU















Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update on Judicial Review Proceedings

We welcome the news that the proceedings are being withdrawn on the commitment from the Central Bank of Ireland to do new asset reviews in relation to all of the credit unions named in the judicial review litigation and a new understanding with the Central Bank of Ireland, which will explicitly involve the Irish League of Credit Unions (“ILCU”) in the regulatory affairs of its affiliated credit unions.

The terms of settlement of the litigation include an agreement that the Central Bank will conduct new asset reviews, and the publication of a letter of intent from the Central Bank of Ireland to the ILCU.  This result is a significant step forward for ILCU affiliated credit unions and commits the Central Bank of Ireland to a real and meaningful engagement with the ILCU and its affiliated credit unions, together with the opportunity to have the ILCU represent and/or assist those credit unions in their dealings with the Central Bank of Ireland.

ILCU affiliated credit unions are best served where the regulator works in conjunction with the ILCU and through this settlement, the Central Bank of Ireland acknowledges the unique role of the ILCU.

A significant purpose of this litigation was to achieve a new way of operating on the part of the Central Bank of Ireland which involves the ILCU and this has now been achieved.  This is a positive and very welcome development for ILCU affiliated credit unions and all those who want and need to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing credit union movement.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Galway set to host major Credit Union Youth Conference


This weekend the Irish league of Credit unions will hold its annual Youth Conference in Galway. This is the 8th annual Youth Conference and the two day event, which will see over 200 credit union representatives travel to Galway, is one of the most popular and important in the credit union calendar. The conference is an opportunity to share information and for credit unions to learn from one another. Young people are very important to the credit union movement and this particular age group have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy with high levels of youth unemployment and indeed emigration. Credit unions are very cognisant of their role in supporting young people in Ireland and this event allows us to share ideas on how to further engage with this segment of the population.
 
A key item for discussion on the agenda is the importance of credit unions growing and expanding their range of services, particularly electronic services, for young credit union members. The conference will also look at the role of the credit union in assisting families and students to meet the escalating costs of third level education. A number of other topics such as engaging, empowering and supporting young people and the role of the credit union in providing broad financial education to secondary and third level students in Ireland will also feature throughout the event. The conference participants will hear presentations from the National Youth Council of Ireland, the ILCU Youth Committee and social media experts, among others.
 
Credit unions are deeply involved at local community level in Ireland and we want to continue to play a role in helping families provide children and young adults, not only with a financial education, but also a good savings habit from a young age. In fact throughout every life stage - communion / confirmation, back to school, college, weddings, buying a car, making home improvements and planning a funeral - the credit union is there to help.  We are delighted to be back in Galway and as always we look forward to interesting presentations and lively debate throughout the conference weekend

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

29th Year of the All Ireland Credit Union Art Competition



Last weekend, the 29th All Ireland Credit Union Art Competition took place at Croke Park in Dublin. Over thirty national prize winners from communities around the country gathered, with their friends and families and Marty Whelan, at a special prize giving event. Many braved the bad weather conditions to travel all morning to be at the event and we were delighted that they were able to join us. The art competition continues to be one of the most successful events run by the credit union movement and we are delighted that so many people take part year on year. This year, we had a huge 30,000 entries to the competition across all age groups.
The competition itself caters for all ages, with categories ranging from under 7, to 18 years and over. There are two categories, General and Special, with five age groups in each. The Special category invites artists with a physical or intellectual disability to submit entries in free expression, without the restrictions of the competitions official theme if they so wish.
I was personally delighted to see the flair and creativity of those who entered this year’s competition  and I am in awe of the outstanding level of imagination reflected in this year’s entries. The theme ‘Gotta Lotta Colour’ is clearly visible in each and every entry. It is so interesting to see how uniquely each of the artists interpreted the theme.
I have to say a very big thank you to the volunteers in over 300 credit unions around the country through which the competition was run. Without their help, we would not be able to put together such a large scale competition. I want to also say well done to everyone else involved, including our judges John Walsh, Creative Director FOCUS Advertising Agency, Ursula Retzlaff O’Connell, Artist, John Farrelly, Cartoonist.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Credit unions are still vital in local communities



The announcement by the Central Bank that for the first time in our history, a bank has taken over a credit union was a sad day for the Irish credit union movement which has delivered extraordinary service to its membership for more than 50 years.

The news is ever more disconcerting when one considers that in the last five years the Irish banks, which cost the state €64 billion continue to remain moribund. There has been no significant lending and their mortgage arrears problem continues to escalate.  In this environment, credit unions, while not shielded from the general economic difficulties, remain a coherent social and economic force in society.

It should be remembered that Irish Banks tripled in size (€201 billion assets to €621 billion assets) between the boom years of 2003 and 2008, borrowing heavily to fund this exceptional and unhindered growth. In contrast credit unions grew at much more modest rates, growing by 38% over the same period 2003-2008 (peaking at €13bn assets), and were totally self-financed throughout.

Notwithstanding the recent difficult climate, credit union membership continues to increase, especially over the period of entrenchment in the economy.  The increase in membership may also be as a result of the disenchantment Irish people have with the banks. The crisis and the way in which the banks have been dealing with their customers have had a huge impact on the reputation of the banks. In addition, banks seem to have withdrawn from the market for personal loans, particularly for small personal loans for things like education and communions etc..  Another important statistic is that savings in credit unions are up, and have increased by 0.9% for the 9 months to June 2013 to €10.5 billion.  This is remarkable given the reduced dividends paid by credit unions in recent years.

The recent announcements regarding the exit of international banks from the Irish financial services sector means that there is now more than ever, greater scope for Ireland’s credit unions to offer a vital link between the Irish public and accessible, community based financial services.  Therefore it is hugely important that the Government, and by extension the Central Bank, do everything they can to ensure that the credit union movement is safe guarded and protected.  The circumstances of the Newbridge Credit Union takeover will be revealed in the fullness of time.  In the interim, it is vital that we recognise and respect the social and economic role that credit unions continue to play at a difficult juncture in our history.  Newbridge Credit Union is an exception and not a rule.  However, credit unions must move forward with confidence.  It is important that we continue to be there for those in our society who need a helping hand, by offering small affordable loans to our credit worthy members and a secure environment for our member’s savings.

Friday, November 8, 2013

CUSOP



This week, the ILCU announced a very significant development for the Irish Credit Union Movement in terms a member services. We were delighted to hear that the Central Bank of Ireland has granted a Payment Institution Licence to the Credit Union Services Organisation for Payments ‘CUSOP’. This means that credit unions across the country will be able to provide electronic payment services to members nationwide. 

The new service will allow credit union members to have payments from a bank, employer or social welfare office paid directly into their credit union account by electronic transfer, enhancing the services already in place at your local credit union. In a time where many of the international banks are exiting the financial services market, more and more people are looking for a viable, community based provider of accessible financial services. We know that electronic services are in demand by members and that credit unions are eager and willing to offer them. 
The vision driving this initiative is that all credit unions who wish to provide payments services should be in a position to do so, thereby enabling them to provide more and better services to their members in the future.  We believe that reforming our payments system will provide cost competitiveness, greater security and convenience for 3.1 million credit union members nationwide.  The granting of this licence is a very significant step forward for credit unions members nationwide and will allow them an option to manage their finances through the credit unions system.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Second ILCU What's Left Tracker of 2013



The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has today published the second ‘What’s Left’ tracker of 2013. In May 2013 we saw the first hint of disposable income stabilisation. We are happy to say that this trend has continued into the second part of the year. However, despite the first signs of positivity, many people and their families around the country are telling us that they continue to struggle to manage their household budgets on a daily basis.

The ‘What’s Left’ tracker, which was introduced in April 2011, aims to look at household finances and the challenges people all over the country are experiencing as the country moves through recession. In 2013, the project focuses more on the journey from net monthly income to disposable income by examining how a typical family is spending their money. We are also delighted that through our ‘Fix your Finances’ website we are able to hear the real life stories of how people are struggling with their financeswww.fixyourfinances.ie.

The Research Findings

Disposable income has increased by 6% from €163 in May 2013 to €172 in September 2013 for an average adult. Disposable income has increased by 9% from €188 in May 2013 to €205 in September 2013 for a working adult. Coming into the winter months when traditionally we see an increase in household utility bills, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Those with €100 or less disposable income left, once all essential bills have been paid, has increased by 20,000. This may be a result however of people moving out of the lower disposable income categories. 1.18 million adults now have €50 or less left at the end of the month, a drop of 20,700 people since the May 2013 findings (1.20 million left with €50 or less in May). 493,800 have nothing left at the end of the month a drop of 24,200 since May 2013 (518,000).

Disposable Income Findings
Disposable Income:
All Adults 3.453m
Working Adults 1.78m
None
14% (493,800)
11% (192,200)
<€20
7% (259,000)
6% (101,500)
€21-€50
13% (435,100)
10% (185,100)
€51-€100
18% (625,000)
18% (315,100)
€101-€150
10% (335,000)
10% (172,700)
€151-€200
7% (231,300)
7% (126,400)
€201-€250
4% (148,500)
4% (81,900)
€251-€300
6% (196,800)
8% (137,100)
€301-€350
2% (89,800)
3% (46,300)
€351-€400
1% (48,300)
2% (32,000)
€401-€500
4% (124,300)
4% (80,000)
€500+
14% (466,100)
17% (309,700)

While much of the above indicates good news, the research did find that almost 4 in 10 or (38%) of the population have to put off paying their essential bills on time because they cannot afford to pay them. This is up slightly on the May 2013 figures. 98% of those people that are putting off their bills have had to sacrifice spending in other areas of their household budget. Worryingly, 73% of those who have had to sacrifice spending in other areas, do so primarily on footwear and clothes, with a further 38% sacrificing spend on health insurance and 34% on food.

On a positive note, we see continued improvement in the amount of money people are saving every month. This has increased to €187 in September, up from €170 in May 2013. It is important to note though that a larger group of people (6 in 10) adults still are not in a position to save money month on month.

In September 2013, we also touched on the area of insurance. We found that 9 in 10 adult consumers have at least one insurance product in their household. Car, health and home insurance are the most common, with car and health insurance considered the most important.

Only 20% of insurance product owners feel that they get value for the money they pay for their policy. 60% stated that given the necessity of insurance products, they definitely could be cheaper. A further 20% said they most definitely don’t get the best value they could on the insurance products they hold. Almost half (48%) have had to sacrifice spending in other areas of the household budget to pay for an insurance policy. Those most likely to sacrifice spending do so most commonly on car (42%) and health insurance (39%).

Over a third (35%) of insurance owners have given up at least one of their insurance products in the last 12 months. On receiving an insurance renewal notice, 7 in 10 actively seek cheaper quotes from other providers. 20% try and negotiate a better deal with their current provider and 10% will simply pay the sum requested. 5 in 10 have switched their insurance provider in the last 12 months.

It is heartening to see the first indications of possible recovery for people around the country. However, there is still a long way to go. It will be interesting over the coming months to see how Budget 2014, the further increase in gas prices and winter costs in general will impact disposable income and the ability of people to pay their bills.