Speaking in the Dáil today on the personal solvency Bill 2012,Joan Collins TD of the United Left Alliance said that the bill did not address the urgent issue of mortgage arrears and the prospect of thousands of people losing their family homes.
As with the Keane report the fate of home owners in arrears is left in the hands of the banks and mortgage providers. While home owners may be offered temporary solutions under the Central Bank guidelines (MARP), such as reduced or interest only payments, there is an inevitability of repossession if their personal circumstances do not change.
The only change this bill offers is to be declared insolvent and to have the negative equity balance still owing after the family home has been sold written off after three years. The government have to face the reality of the situation and force banks and mortgage providers to do the same. A percentage of mortgage debt has to be written off. If people who have lost jobs or small businesses due to the collapse of the economy cannot pay, the debt won’t be paid.
Repossessing homes where the security is now on average only equal to 50% of the loan means that the banks and mortgage lenders are going to take losses. These losses were calculated as part of the bank recapitalisation at the states expense.
This reality needs to accepted, and a system devised to allow people to pay what they can and remain in the family home. This should not be a ‘desired outcome’ of negotiations but an explicit requirement of a mortgage resolution process.
This has been done in a number of northern European countries, and the ULA has been preparing a bill along the lines of legislation in Norway which resolved a similar crisis there in the 1990s. In this approach there is an explicit right to the family home. Only that part of the mortgage which now matches the current value of the house, plus 10%, is considered as secure debt. Payments are then adjusted to pay the capital and interest on the secured portion of the mortgage only, while leaving sufficient income for a reasonable standard of living.
The negative equity or unsecured debt element of the mortgage is then treated as any other unsecured debt and is written off after five years if the debtor fulfils the terms of the resolution agreement. Safeguards to stop any abuse of the system can be written into the legislation.
The ULA will be seeking to amend this legislation to ensure these objectives. There is also an urgent need to deal other aspects of the general housing crisis, such as negative equity in general , the very serious arrears problem in the shared ownership schemes operated by local authorities, and the scandalous lack of social housing.
More than one million people have taken part in the biggest boycott and campaign of civil disobedience in over a century. Despite what the government claims, the majority of home-owners – 52% – have not registered. Don’t be bullied into paying. One million people can’t be brought to court.
The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), the body charges with collecting the tax, are planning to send out letters to those who haven’t paid over the next few months. Letters will go first to landlords and owners of second homes. Then they intend to send three letters to non payers they can identify, using data from various sources.
The Campaign Against the Household Tax and Water Charges (CAHTWC) will organise local meetings as the letters are distributed more widely in communities. These letters are not summonses, but should court cases be taken in the future, they will be met with massive protests and political pressure on the parties responsible. Nobody would attend court alone or without support from the campaign.
The data from ESB or social welfare doesn’t prove you own a home. The indisputable proof of ownership is registration itself. That is why we won’t register and help the government compile the database they need to impose home taxes.
People are taking this stance as they know the household tax is the first in a series. The Sunday Business Post has speculated about a water charge for an average family of €570, and a property tax of €500. Low and middle income earners have been crucified in the last four years and can’t take anymore. We have to stay united and keep up the boycott.
With over half refusing to register, this is our best chance to strike a blow against austerity policies which are wrecking the economy. This has shaken the government like no other issue.
I urge all those struggling against the effects of Fine Gael and Labour’s austerity programme to join the anti-austerity protest march to the Dail on Wednesday 18 July. We need to let this government of the rich know that we will no longer tolerate paying for a crisis which is not our making.
The Constituency Office of Joan Collins TD was opened a year ago this week. The office has been extremely busy helping people with housing issues, delays in welfare payments and claims, complaints about anti social behaviour and many other issues. It is very pleasing that the office is increasingly being used by campaign groups and community groups for meetings.
The office is located at 10A Old County Road and there is also a People Before Profit Office at the Ranch in Ballyfermot.
Article source: http://joan-collins.org/2012/07/06/880/