Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Order of Business (Resumed)
I refer to the Irish Credit Bureau. I am seeking a review of the Irish credit rating system because it is one that offers no forgiveness. In other countries people are given a second chance, but that is not the case in this country. Credit unions operate under strict rules imposed by the Central Bank of Ireland. The social protection scheme which is operated by credit unions and which was designed for people on low incomes has not been availed of by all credit unions. What about the squeezed middle who renegotiated their loans and are paying their way? They have had a tough five or six years, but after renegotiating their loans and paying their way, there is a black mark against them. It is very difficult for such persons to get even the smallest of loans from credit unions or banks. We need a new system in order that they can take out small or medium-sized loans which they will pay back. Retail sales at Christmas were down significantly because, whether we like it, the retail sector runs on credit and if we are to get the economy running, we have to help people to get credit. If they want to take out a small or medium-sized loan, they should be given a second chance. If they have renegotiated their loans, why put a black mark against them? They are paying their way. In many cases, their downfall was the result of circumstances connected to the crash which brought them to a position where they had to renegotiate their loans. We have to move on. Many people in middle Ireland are going to loan sharks who are charging interest rates of 200% or 300%, something we want to stop. We need a debate on the Irish Credit Bureau which is past its sell-by date. We need to examine how we can help the people concerned. A new system needs to be introduced because the one in place is Victorian.