Credit Union Advisory Committee welcomes Final Report from the Implementation Group and announces work plan for 2019

The Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC) has welcomed the publication of the Final Report of the CUAC Report Implementation Group. The Implementation Group was set up to oversee and implement recommendations from a 2016 Review undertaken by the CUAC. The Final Report summarises the work of the Implementation Group and the progress that has been made on the CUAC recommendations.

Commenting on the report the chair of the CUAC, Lorraine Corcoran, said:
“We would like to thank the Implementation Group for their work and for the Final Report which is a very useful contribution to current policy discussions regarding the Credit Union sector. We are happy to see that many of the recommendations have been progressed satisfactorily and recognise the role of the Implementation Group’s work in this regard. We do note however that some recommendations have not progressed in the manner envisaged by CUAC, the most notable of which relates to Consultation and Engagement. It is now for the CUAC to consider further these recommendations, reflecting the current environment and whether there is an alternative manner in which they may be progressed. Regarding the Implementation Group’s conclusion on Tiered Regulation, the CUAC agrees that given developments in the sector Tiering within Regulations may be more appropriate at this time, and that Tiered Regulation could be revisited again in future if necessary.”

Work plan

The CUAC also announced today its work plan for 2019 and beyond.

Given four new members, including a new chair, were appointed to the Committee in September 2018, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe provided ministerial guidance to the CUAC for its work over the next number of years.

In addition to a focus on business model development as the biggest issue facing the sector the Minister requested the CUAC to specifically look at (1) barriers to and supports for collaborative efforts (2) SME lending, linking with the outcomes of the Local Public Banking report. The Minister also asked the CUAC to look at “people” aspects of the sector including the varied issues impacting directors, managers, staff and volunteers, an area which wasn’t focussed on in the last CUAC report as the new governance regime had not yet bedded down.

Having given the directions due consideration, the CUAC has decided to prioritise during 2019:

  • Undertaking research with Directors of credit unions. As a key strategic player within the credit union sector, the role of Directors of credit unions has changed fundamentally in recent years. The purpose of the research is to understand the issues and challenges facing Directors and to explore their role in the context of the current governance structure, operating framework – including business model development – and broader environment that credit unions conduct business in.
    This research will involve first conducting a series of focus groups with a diverse range of directors before conducting a wider survey of Directors of the Credit Union sector as whole. This work will take place over H1 2019 and the results of the focus groups and the survey will be published along with an analysis by the CUAC. It is expected that the exploration of these issues and the subsequent findings may help inform the work of the Committee over the next three years.


  • A policy paper on Barriers and Supports to Collaboration. The CUAC notes that while there are many new collaborative initiatives in the sector, cooperation and collaboration among Irish credit unions has historically not materialised to the same degree as International credit union movements. The CUAC believes that in the modern financial services landscape, collaboration and the scale it provides will be imperative for future of the Credit Union movement and therefore intends to undertake a piece of work to see what barriers are present in the Credit Union landscape in Ireland and if there are any supports that are necessary.

The Committee will also:
• Keep a watching brief on developments with the Local Public Banking report and will assess later in 2019 what further analysis would be most useful for the Minister and the sector;

• Review all outstanding issues from the CUAC report and, if appropriate, consider further work in these areas, in particular on Consultation and Engagement;

• Track emerging issues in the sector as they arise;

• Undertake Statutory Consultations as they arise.

In addition, the CUAC would welcome feedback from any stakeholders on the workplan, specific work identified or other matters that stakeholders believe the CUAC should consider. Feedback can be provided to the Committee to marked for the attention of CUAC.

Any policy papers completed by the CUAC in relation to the areas identified will where possible be published to ensure transparency to the sector.

Explaining the CUAC’s prioritisation and work plan for the year, the Chair said:
“There is strong anecdotal evidence which suggests that Credit Union Directors feel that the impact of regulatory changes to their role is not fully understood. Given the depth and breadth of how their role has changed over the last six years and their central governance function we felt there would be valuable insights to be gained from this important group. On Barriers and Supports to Collaborative efforts, we believe that collaboration among Credit Unions is key in terms of Business Model Development and the future of the sector and therefore we have decided to prioritise analysing how more collaboration could be fostered in the Credit Union Sector.”