Fianna Fáil Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson Sean Fleming has slammed the government’s piecemeal approach to dealing with mortgage arrears and people in severe financial difficulty.

Deputy Fleming commented, “I welcome the announcement of a reduction to one year in the period of bankruptcy. However to listen to government ministers one would think they had solved the mortgage arrears crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is one element of a far wider programme of measures that is needed to deal with families and businesses in financial difficulty.

“There are over 38,000 families in mortgage arrears for more than two years. The reality is bankruptcy will not be a silver bullet for most of these people. The Minister for Finance said earlier this year that of those who had a family home and were declared bankrupt, approximately 70% lose their family home. These people became homeless and have to seek social housing from their local authority as a result of this.

“While bankruptcy may be appropriate in certain circumstances it is not a solution for the vast majority of households whose primary financial difficulty relates to falling behind on their mortgage.

“What is needed are proposals to minimise the number of home repossessions. Fianna Fáil provided the government with a template in our Family Home Mortgage Settlement Arrangement Bill 2014 which would have adapted the underutilised Insolvency Service to allow a dedicated mechanism for dealing with the family home.

“The government resisted for four years in taking action to remove the bank veto. The change to the bankruptcy term is a last minute attempt to create a semblance of doing something. Families who are struggling to pay their mortgage need far more done to help them stay in their home,” concluded Deputy Fleming.