The inclusion of two credit unions that have a big presence in Laois in a new State-backed Covid-19 business loan schemes means they are ideally placed to help with the recovery from the pandemic, according to Minister of State Seán Fleming.
The Laois Offaly TD is the junior Minister in the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Credit Unions. He has described the inclusion of People First and St Canice's credit unions as good news for small businesses and the farming sector in the area.
People First which operates in Portlaoise, Abbeyleix, Stradbally and Athy while the Kilkenny based St Canice’s Credit Union has branches in Durrow, Mountrath and Rathdowney. They are two of only seven credit unions nationwide that have been approved to participate in the Government Credit Guarantee Scheme.
Minister Fleming said the scheme is the biggest ever State-backed loan guarantee in Ireland. He said it offers 80% Government guarantee to participating banks and credit unions to provide Irish businesses and farmers with access to low-interest loans as they respond to the impact of COVID-19.
He said interest rates on these loans will be lower because the Government guarantee which reduces the risk to credit unions and banks. In addition, he said no personal guarantees or collateral is required for loans under €250,000.
"This is really good news that two of the seven credit unions nationwide that will be participating in the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme are operating in Co. Laois. Credit Unions are ideally placed to support the recovery providing loans to local businesses as a key element in the recovery.
"I want to compliment the boards and the chief executives of our local credit unions in getting directly involved in this credit Guarantee Scheme and I look forward to them providing loans to many businesses throughout the County. I also wish to stress that businesses or farmers need not previously have been clients of these Credit Unions or particular banks to apply for lending under this new scheme.
"I have been in touch with other credit unions to support them in participating in this new scheme as soon as possible," he said.
People First and St Canice's are members of Metamo, a joint venture of credit unions and Fexco, which have a combined membership of approximately 250,000 members. The others are: Cara Credit Union, Mallow Credit Union, First Choice Credit Union, Limerick & District Credit Union, Synergy Credit Union.
Read also: PEOPLE FIRST OUTLINES THE LOAN SCHEME