Budget response to overindebtedness crisis is entirely inadequate

9 December 2009

FLAC Budget Statement 2010

Independent legal rights group FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) has as its main aim to achieve equal access to justice. As part of this overarching goal, the organisation has a particular focus on issues affecting particular groups. Budget 2010 has serious implications for all of them.

FLAC especially wanted to highlight the following issues which arise from today's proposals:

There is a remarkable lack of assistance for people in mortgage arrears in this budget. The proposal that the regulator might look at extending the moratorium on legal action in arrears cases from 6 to 12 months for all banks is derisory. FLAC has previously highlighted the existing voluntary Code of Conduct on Mortgage as a deficient measure.

FLAC Director Noeline Blackwell commented that "the idea is entirely inadequate for a code which, as recently admitted by the Financial Regulator herself, needs review. As one of the three target groups mentioned by the Minister for Finance in his speech - the others being flood victims and the unemployed - it is hugely disappointing to see that there will not be a more effective measure to help people in chronic mortgage arrears right now. There needs to be a more equal sharing of the pain between banks and borrowers."

The Minister has reduced Child Benefit to many families who rely on it for basic needs. Ms Blackwell said that "it is not good enough that many very deserving families who desperately need this payment but who are not on social welfare will now find it harder to make ends meet."

"It is also very disappointing that the government did not listen to the voices of the very poorest children in Ireland who do not receive Child Benefit at all," continued Ms Blackwell. FLAC has recently campaigned against an ongoing social welfare inequality where many migrant families do not receive Child Benefit, which was previously a universal payment.

FLAC also regretted the serious cut to the budget of the Law Reform Commission of 31%, which will impact heavily on its ability to review and propose legislation for the government.


Editors' notes:

  1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. It campaigns through advocacy, strategic litigation and authoritative analysis to contribute to the eradication of social and economic exclusion.
  2. You can read more about FLAC's campaigns online.
  3. The latest copy of FLAC's newsletter is available online in PDF format.