Credit unions are seeing a rise in demand for loans after years of stagnation.

And another 10,000 people joined a credit union in the first eight months of this year.

The 354 member-owned lenders that make up the Irish League of Credit Unions said the combined savings were up, loan arrears are down and the majority have millions more euro in reserves than required by the rules.

Lending is the main way credit unions generate returns.

However, the loan books of credit unions have been shrinking over the past few years.

Now there are signs that demand for loans has begun to rise again.

Some 132 credit unions that are members of the league have now reported that they have grown their loan book. The average credit union loan interest rate is 9pc.

In the three months to June an extra €2m was taken out in loans by consumers.

Collectively, the member credit unions of the league have €5.5bn available to loan out.

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