“Illegal money lending is rife in County Laois” – MABS

Written 3 years ago by Rebecca Donnelly

Living in Portlaoise and got a bad credit rating? You can’t access a Government scheme to steer people away from loan sharks because the local credit union hasn’t signed up.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar announced the nationwide expansion of the micro-finance programme in July after a successful pilot at 30 credit unions. At the time, he said: “This small loans’ scheme represents real practical help for families and individuals struggling on low incomes.
“Many of the participants struggle to get credit elsewhere, and may not have a bank account or savings. So when the unexpected bill arrives for home or car repairs, a new fridge, or a family occasion, some turn to moneylenders and loan sharks.


This new scheme will ensure access to small loans at reasonable interest from the credit union.”
However, Pauline Bunyan from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in County Laois today told Will Faulkner that illegal moneylending remains rife in the community. “The banks now have such strict criteria, they’re really not giving out loans or any facilities. Many people don’t have bank accounts anymore because they can’t afford the charges.”

Ms Bunyan says the micro-finance scheme is helping but unfortunately not all credit unions have signed up to it. “There are at least three or four credit unions [in County Laois] that have taken it up but unfortunately the biggest, which is Portlaoise, has not taken it up.”

Hear her full comments below: