To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the development of a special purpose vehicle to enable credit union fund investment in social housing; the timeframe for its launch; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness emphasises the need to look at new ways of funding social housing delivery, in particular the need to provide structural, funding and policy supports to increase delivery of social housing by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).
Against that background, the credit unions representative bodies put forward proposals as to how credit unions could provide loan finance to AHBs for social housing. In February 2018, following the publication of a consultation paper and a period of consultation, the Registrar of Credit Unions, who is responsible for regulatory oversight of credit unions, amended the regulations to allow credit unions to invest in Tier 3 AHBs under certain conditions.
In May 2017, my Department announced that funding of €49,000 would be provided to the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) to support an initiative through which they would develop proposals regarding special purpose vehicles and a mechanism that would enable the sector to attract investment in social housing projects from potential investors, including the credit union movement. Work has been on-going between the ICSH, a number of larger Tier 3 AHBs and their financial advisors on the development of such a vehicle, taking account also of the recent Eurostat decision on the reclassification of the AHB sector. The ICSH anticipates that this work should be completed in the third quarter of this year.
I and my Department have met with the credit union movement on a number of occasions in relation to their wish to invest in social housing. The Department has also facilitated engagement between the credit union sector and the ICSH, with a view to encouraging links between the two sectors and allowing credit unions to share the benefits of the work currently underway.
While, it remains the case that the development of specific SPVs to enable the credit unions to make investments in the sector is a matter that the credit unions themselves have to resolve, my Department will continue to be available to engage with the sector, as required.
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