A pilot microcredit scheme was launched in over 30 credit unions in November 2015. Microcredit is the lending of small amounts of money at low interest rates. The scheme aims to reduce dependence on moneylenders with very high interest rates. The pilot was a success and it is now being rolled out across all credit unions in the Republic of Ireland. Participation by a credit union in the scheme is on a voluntary basis.
It Makes Sense Loans are available to people getting a social welfare payment who may not be able to get credit from other sources. You must also qualify for the Household Budget Scheme or, if your social welfare payment is paid into a bank account or a credit union account, you must agree to repay the loan standing order or direct debit. Loan values will be between €100 and €2,000 and a maximum interest rate of 12% (12.68% APR) will apply.
If you are not a member of your local credit union you can join very quickly (provided that you live in the local area) and be considered immediately for an It Makes Sense loan. Loans can be granted quickly - in some cases within 24 hours - but usually within a working week.
An It Makes Sense loan is available to people aged over 18 who are:
You can apply for a loan for any purpose, including repayment of an outstanding debt. You can take out a loan for a minimum period of one month up to a maximum of 2 years.
The scheme rules may differ between credit unions. For example, some credit unions may offer loans at lower amounts or ask a member to save for a certain amount of time before applying for a loan. Contact your local credit union for details. See 'Where to apply' below.
The minimum loan amount is €100 and the maximum amount you can borrow is €2,000. The decision to grant a loan, along with the amount of the loan, remains entirely with the participating credit union.
Loan repayments are made from deductions each week from your social welfare payment via the Household Budget Scheme or by direct debit or standing order from your bank or credit union account. The maximum deduction allowed under the Household Budget Scheme is 25% of your weekly social welfare payment. This includes any other deductions that you may have under the Household Budget Scheme (for example, for rent or for household bills).
The maximum interest rate that credit unions will charge for an It Makes Sense loan is 1% a month or 12% a year (12.68% APR).
|For a €500 loan||APR||Term||Weekly repayments||Interest charged||Total repaid|
The It Makes Sense loan
|12.68% (variable)||6 months||€19.84||€15.84||€515.84|
You apply for an It Makes Sense loan through your local credit union. The decision to grant a loan remains entirely with the participating credit union.
If you are not already a member of the credit union you need to provide evidence of your name, address and PPS number. You will need:
You need to bring 2 consecutive social welfare slips (from within the previous 4 weeks) if you collect your weekly payment at the post office or 2 months bank/credit union statements if you receive your social welfare payment into a bank or credit union account to your credit union.
Your local credit union will help you fill out a loan application form and complete the form to allow deductions from the household budget scheme.
The loan is available at over 100 credit unions and the number of credit unions participating will increase as more credit unions join the scheme. You can visit facebook.com/itmakessenseloan to find out more. The website itmakessenseloan.ie has a list of participating credit unions.
You can get information and advice about budgeting from the network of Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS):
Westend Commercial Village
Tel:0761 07 2020
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.