UUP Assembly candidate and Lisburn and Castlereagh City councillor, Jenny Palmer, has challenged the Stormont Executive to provide more cash aid to help Credit Unions grow in Lagan Valley.
And she also called for a particular focus on rural areas.
Councillor Palmer issued her challenge to the Executive along with a specific call for the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister to provide financial support for Credit Unions to expand their services in the Lagan Valley area in line with many other parts of the UK.
Councillor Palmer said she was a staunch campaigner for the rights of Credit Unions.
“Credit Unions are community-based financial institutions, set up by the public with a community led ethos,” she said.
“They perform a vital and necessary duty in offering financial services to those who are at most need and who might not have access otherwise.
“Credit Unions also fill many gaps in the financial sector, especially for people in rural areas, which have seen many bank closures in small towns and villages.
“In the Credit Unions, people have a local, viable and reliable option.”
Councillor Palmer said it was because of this she was also urging the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister to see what she could do to assist rural credit unions.
Councillor Palmer added: “However, the services that the Credit Unions can provide currently are limited here in Northern Ireland.
“Stormont must begin to address the limits to Credit Unions, help where expansion is viable, and offer support to expanding their services where necessary.
“What is certain is that a number of Credit Unions here are ready for expansion.
“The Executive must provide the correct assistance to allow them to develop, for the benefit of the communities who use their services.”