New Lending Rules to come into force for Credit Unions

21 November 2019 Press Release

Central Bank of Ireland

  • Central Bank issues regulations to allow credit unions undertake increased longer term lending, including home mortgage and business lending
  • Further additional capacity to be extended to larger, stronger credit unions who meet certain requirements
  • Changes will take effect from January 2020

In October 2018 the Central Bank launched CP125 - Consultation on Potential Changes to the Lending Framework for Credit Unions to seek feedback on proposed changes to the lending framework for credit unions. The Central Bank is publishing the responses received to that consultation alongside a Feedback Statement.

Following a review and public consultation, the Central Bank issues new lending measures for credit unions that will come into effect in January 2020. Changes will include the removal of the existing lending maturity limits which cap the percentage of credit union lending which may be outstanding for periods of greater than 5 and 10 years. Maturity limits will be replaced by new concentration limits, on a tiered basis, for home mortgage and business loans, expressed as a percentage of total assets.

These changes provide those credit unions with the financial strength, the competence and the capability, the flexibility to undertake increased longer term lending, including home mortgage and business lending.

There are three tiers under the changes as follows:

  • A combined concentration limit for house and business loans of 7.5 per cent of total assets for all credit unions.
  • A 10 per cent limit, conditional on a credit union satisfying asset size (at least €50 million) and regulatory reserves qualifying criteria and notifying the Central Bank in advance.
  • A 15 per cent limit for credit unions with total assets of at least €100 million, subject to Central Bank approval.

Registrar for Credit Unions, Patrick Casey, said

“The changes being announced today follow a comprehensive review of the lending framework for credit unions. This forms part of our commitment to ensuring a responsive regulatory framework. It is important that the lending framework remains appropriate for credit unions taking account of their risk management, capabilities, expertise and financial resilience.

We are introducing these changes so that credit unions will have greater flexibility to engage in longer term lending, including home mortgage and business lending, to support increased diversification in credit union lending. The proposals are grounded in the Central Bank’s statutory mandate, which is to ensure the protection by each credit union of the funds of its members and maintenance of the financial stability and well-being of credit unions generally. Where credit unions wish to undertake increased house and commercial lending, it is important that they understand the risks involved.

The amending regulations represent significant and fundamental structural framework changes, providing sufficient capacity and flexibility to enable safe and sound business model transformation on a sustainable basis serving members’ long term interests.”

Further changes in relation to the removal of the existing longer term lending maturity limits, the new maximum maturity limits for secured and unsecured lending, and the definition for business loans are outlined in the Feedback Statement.