Let This Highlight the Real Issues.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
There has been an uproar in Ireland about our banks proposals on insolvency plans for people in mortgage difficulties. Our Transport Minister Leo Varadker got himself in very hot water yesterday for stating that 'Some working women will have to choose between their careers and paying the mortgage if they enter a tough new insolvency regime'
Oh dear, what a very unfortunate way of putting it Mr Varadker, especially as it seems that the proposed new regime doesn't actually specify 'women'. It apparently hints that some 'parents' may have to surrender their jobs if their childcare costs exceeds their income. That hints at the 'second income', (or lower income) and could apply to either spouse, but will most likely refer to women.
Mr Varadker should never have said 'women'. And he definitely shouldn't have said 'working women'.
Because now the argument has become all about women in the work place which, although a huge part of the debate, is not all that it's about.
It's about families and their ability to pay their debts and live their lives in this austere land that is intent on running family life into the ground.
It seems ridiculous that in a country with a 14% unemployment rate, the fourth highest in Europe, national institutions that have been bailed out by it's citizens, are going to suggest that some of said citizens, lucky enough to have a job, should give it up! And it seems absolutely ludicrous that a job would be considered a luxury expense along with pay-to-view-tv and private health insurance when considering a family's ability to pay their debts.
It is 'draconian and short-sighted' as one journalist put it.
But the Bill hasn't even been published yet and not all Government ministers are in agreement with Mr Varadker's interpretation. Just today our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny assures us that any reference to surrendering ones job will be removed from the guidelines.
Not that I trust the banks, or the Government for that matter, on this issue, they will never lose out on this. The cynic in me wonders if perhaps this a typical drip-fed leak to see what the little people are likely to let them get away with?
Although initially incensed I have given this a lot of thought.
Just so you know: I am a Stay at Home Mum with the Worthy Career (that chose me, due to special circumstances 8 years ago) of staying at home to raise my child. Note: I consider myself a 'working woman' too. I am also a fervent believer in every mother/parent's right to choose whether they go out to work or stay home to raise their children.
And here's where I may land myself in my very own home-brewed pot of boiling uisce..... but please hear me out before you leave me to languish in it!
To me, on face value, this debate is simply about budgeting and reassurances aside, I cannot see how any insolvency regime can ignore the financial black hole that the cost of going out to work may create.This issue would no doubt arise in an Eddie Hobbs-like family financial assessment, surely? This is not new, it's always been an issue and finally we have an opportunity to highlight it again. Let it not get lost in the hysteria over the silly man's bad word choice.
There are hidden issues here.
It is quite conceivable that one spouse could be forced to give up their job. Will that incur a cost to the state? There are some circumstances where jobseekers allowance/benefit may be paid to someone who left work voluntarily but had reasonable cause . Does 'the Bank Manager forced me to' fit that criteria? And are they still considered to be 'available for employment'? Perhaps, if the job comes at a bank approved salary?
And what about the potential job losses in the child care industry?
Any Bank that tells a parent they must give up work because it's more financially viable to stay at home in order to pay their mortgage, whilst possibly claiming state benefits, is treading very dangerous waters indeed.
Banks and insolvency regimes aside, I have no doubt that here are families all over Ireland who have already made this financial change, through necessity to put food on the table. Families who may consist of just one-parent. Families living in council homes with no mortgage payment issues, just subsisting on the bread line.
Some parents may have even turned down a job offer because it cost too much in terms of loss of benefits and child care costs, to make working a viable option.
I'm glad the proposed insolvency regime raised this debate because it highlights an issue that has always been there....the cost of going to work.
That's what needs to be focused on.
That and providing viable financial options for parents who want to work outside the home or choose to work raising their children at home.
And of course, providing a fair and equitable way of implementing an insolvency regime that allows people to stay in their own homes.