Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has criticised the government for failing to introduce legislation to regulate the household budgeting and debt advice sector one year on from the collapse of Home Payments Ltd and has called on government to quickly move a Fianna Fáil bill through committee stage in September.
Deputy McGrath stated, “Last August, Home Payments Ltd went into liquidation owing up to €6 million to its 2,300 customers. These customers learned this week that they will only get between a fifth and a quarter of their money back. It is scandalous that twelve months on from the collapse of this company, the government has failed to enact legislation to regulate the sector and afford some basic level of protection to customers.
“Before the demise of Home Payments Ltd, Fianna Fáil published a bill aimed at regulating this growing sector. During private members’ time in the Dáil last May, the government allowed the bill to pass second stage. I am now calling on the government to quickly move the Fianna Fáil bill through committee stage in the autumn in order that this sector can be properly regulated.
“The area of debt management advice and household budgeting services is unregulated at present and is a growing cause of concern. While there are reputable firms in the sector, it also attracts many ‘fly by night’ operators who prey on vulnerable consumers. Many distressed borrowers have signed up to what appear to be attractive offers of debt write offs but end up finding themselves in further financial trouble and in a less secure situation.
“The bottom line here is that government inaction since the collapse of Home Payments Ltd has left many customers exposed to unsupervised and unregulated sector for an unnecessarily long period of time. The Fianna Fáil bill is robust and comprehensive and should be enacted without delay.”