Chairman’s Address

56th AGM – Chairman’s Address

As we near the end of yet another successful year for Lurgan Credit Union, I am delighted to present to you the Fifty Sixth Chairman’s Address.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the Directors, Staff, Volunteers and, most importantly the Members of Lurgan Credit Union as your Chairman for the past year. I would like to offer a sincere word of thanks to Janis Hatchell for her long and selfless commitment to Lurgan Credit Union, over many years and various committees, on her retirement from the Board. Just on that point I’d like to also say a big thank you to all the volunteers who are currently involved at either Board or committee level. They all give freely of their time to help ensure Lurgan Credit Union continues to be as successful as it has been for over the past 56 years. We are pleased to welcome a number of new volunteers into LCU this year. We are currently having a recruitment drive for various posts within the volunteer structure so if you or anyone you know feel they would have the time to offer to the Credit Union especially in the areas of IT or legal, please feel free to ask any member of staff for further details.

Much change lies ahead with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Credit Unions will be central to the pre-and-post-Brexit effort in communities to safeguard families and the local economy. When people lose income, or worse lose their jobs, credit unions are the ultimate, and often the only, door open to them. We want our communities to know that credit unions stand ready to deliver for them. It is against this backdrop that Credit Unions continue to strive to provide members with access to affordable credit and a reasonable dividend on shares. To this end I would urge all our members to come in and talk to us or look on the website to see loan rates and use the repayment calculator to assess the true total cost of any loan they may be considering. Members should see Lurgan Credit Union as their first stop when considering a loan. We are different from most lenders in that we offer members insurance on loans so they don’t become a burden on the families should the member die during the period of the loan. Members also only pay interest on the outstanding loan amount unlike other lenders who charge full interest for the entire period of the loan. We have money to lend and are keen to continue to provide this vital service to our members. Our rates are very competitive especially over the entire loan period and for smaller loan amounts are substantially lower than those of banks and payday lenders. Lurgan Credit Union, like all credit unions across Northern Ireland, plays a significant role in ensuring access to affordable credit for those who need it most.

We remain a community organisation and see ourselves very much at the heart of the community in Lurgan. The credit union movement has an ethos of supporting local initiatives and this has long been a feature of Lurgan Credit Union. Myself and many other Directors have presented sponsorship to numerous local teams, men’s and women’s groups, schools and charities. We ran a school’s quiz which continues to grow every year and the number of schools entering our Art Competition is up again this year. We are proud of the role we continue to play in being not only a financial institution but also a valuable resource to the community and its people. Credit unions are committed to financial education and to ensuring their members fully understand the financial products and services they offer and to that end we continue to champion the Schools Saving Scheme in at least 8 of our local Primary Schools. We at LCU also offer support through the Career Ready Mentoring Programme in St. Ronan’s College and offer student placements to year 13 and 14 students from local secondary schools.

Credit unions have been regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) since 2013 and we continue to be subject to rigorous on-going regulatory and compliance checks and inspections. However, the staff and volunteers work extremely hard to ensure Lurgan Credit Union is run in a prudent and professional manner. The visit from the PRA this year found the management and Board of Lurgan Credit Union to be extremely effective and Lurgan Credit Union to be very well run.
As part of the Prudential Regulation Authority’s (PRA’s) regulatory requirements under Part 10.1 of the PRA Credit Union Rulebook we are now obliged to report the following:

  •  Lurgan Credit Union Ltd. is compliant with all requirements relating to the deposit protection scheme and the Single Customer View (SCV);
  •  Lurgan Credit Union Ltd. has maintained the required level of insurance against fraud and dishonesty throughout the year;
  •  Lurgan Credit Union undertakes additional lending and investment activities and complies with the PRA mandatory ratio requirements in relation  to those activities. Ratios are reviewed monthly by the Board of Directors.

Over the coming months the Board and staff will be introducing new systems and procedures, streamlining how some things are done and introducing some new on-line facilities to help members get the most from their Credit Union and respond to members’ needs and wishes, especially our younger tech savvy members. Credit unions remain vital and accessible providers of affordable and ethical financial services across the country. Credit unions are expanding services to members including online and electronic payment services, we do this in the best interest of our members and to ensure that Lurgan Credit Union remains a cornerstone of our local community into the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff who work so hard to keep Lurgan Credit Union at the forefront of the local financial community. There are many people who either in a paid or voluntary capacity constantly strive to ensure your credit union remains strong and safe and fully committed to serving your needs. We have been operating successfully for the last fifty-six years and we will continue to do so in the future.
At Lurgan Credit Union we recognise and appreciate the loyalty and support which has always existed between you, our members, and the credit union. For this we thank you and assure you that together, and with your continued loyalty, we will continue to make a positive difference to our community.

Before I conclude, in memory of all our deceased members I would invite you to stand and observe a minute’s silence.

Martin Cullen

December 2019