Fine Gael Cork South Central TD, Jerry Buttimer, has said that the Personal Insolvency Bill published this week by Ministers Alan Shatter and Michael Noonan is a key step in solving our mortgage debt crisis.
 
“This draft Bill puts forward a range of options that will provide much needed relief for those struggling with personal debt. The challenge of getting to grips with the mortgage problem is one of the biggest issues facing this Government. We now have a series of solutions, which will form a key part of the Government’s strategy for dealing with mortgage arrears. People who are unable to meet their mortgage repayments or who are struggling to deal with personal debt will be directly helped by these measures.
 
“For those struggling under the burden of spiralling mortgage debt, the new Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIA) contained within the Bill will provide a lifeline. So many people across Cork South Central have told me of their personal financial problems in recent months; many homeowners are struggling so hard to make ends meet, they literally have nothing left when their mortgage is paid.  Through agreement with creditors, the new PIAs will help mortgage holders to restructure their debts and get back on their feet.
 
“Many other people who may not have large mortgages to meet still find themselves overwhelmed by personal debts. Credit card bills, car loans and overdrafts can easily get out of control if you find yourself in changed financial circumstances. The write-down of small debts, up to the value of €20,000, will be made possible through the issuance of Debt Relief Certificates. For those with larger personal debts, a Debt Settlement Arrangement may be agreed, which also allows for the write-down of personal loans.
 
“The final element of this legislation is the reformed bankruptcy arrangements, which reduce the period of time that a person will be considered bankrupt from 12 to 3 years. This is a complete overhaul of the existing regime, which is punitive and out of date. Bankruptcy should always be considered a course of last resort. However, for those who find themselves with no other option, this proposed new legislation will make the process quicker and easier.
 
“This Bill is an excellent start; it will now go before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice for its consideration and it’s hoped it can be published in full by the end of April. Between now and then, the Government wants to hear the views of the Opposition and the public. This Government is determined to chart a way out of this crisis by helping people who are feeling overwhelmed by debt to regain control of their financial affairs.”