The Irish League of Credit Unions recently released very positive 2016 year-end figures, showing that demand for loans is increasing steadily across all affiliated credit unions. Loans are up by a significant €216 million (6.1%) in the Republic of Ireland, with 192 credit unions growing their loan books. Lending has now been on the rise for five out of the last six quarters.
In Northern Ireland, loans are up by over 3%, with 72% of credit unions reporting a growth in their loan books. Lending has now been on the rise in Northern Ireland for four consecutive years, and has grown by 11% in total since late 2012.
This healthy upward trend in lending is hugely encouraging. Credit unions have been very proactive in growing their loan books over the past year, and this has been demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority are now reporting lending increases. The figures are reflective of a movement that continues to grow and strengthen, while confidence continues to be expressed by the steady growth in membership, which has now reached almost 3.5 million.
We have also continued to have strong asset growth in 2016. Assets grew by over 7% in the Republic, and now stand at slightly over €14 billion – up almost €1 billion. In Northern Ireland, assets have been increasing for six consecutive years and were up by 6% in 2016 to over £1.3 billion.
Savings increased by 7%, to now stand at €12 billion in the Republic, while savings were also up by 7% in Northern Ireland and are now at over £1.1 billion.
Arrears have hit a ten year low in the Republic and are now back at September 2006 levels following a 27% fall in 2016. In Northern Ireland, arrears have fell by 6% and have now been falling for three consecutive years.
The 2016 results once again show that the credit union movement is very well capitalised. Capital reserves increased by 8.4% and now stand at €2.3 billion in the Republic, while in Northern Ireland, capital reserves increased by £11 million (6%) and are now at £184 million.
While we did have some regrettable news in 2016 with the liquidation of Rush Credit Union, it is clear from these year-end figures that overall the movement is strong and extremely well capitalised, while confidence continues to be expressed by our growing membership.