Let This Highlight the Real Issues.

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. 



  1. I've been scribbling furious notes on this topic all day, but you've said almost everything that I wanted to say :) Totally agree that the debate needs to move on to the cost of childcare. But I also wanted to add the point that when women do take time out of the workforce, it substantially reduces their lifetime earnings and also their pensions, and another point that was made today was that childcare that does not make economic sense this year when your child is 4, may make perfect sense when your child is 5 and at school!

    But there is also a bigger picture here, about control. It seems to be coming back everywhere, from the Government trying to control citizens and the choices they make (food stamps to be introduced in the UK) to the possibility of disciplinary action following the peaceful protests by Gardai at their conference.

    I find this trend VERY worrying xx

  2. @Looking for Blue Sky: Your post would have been brilliant. I was nervous posting this but had to get it said. The joys og being housebound with sick teen boy allowed me the time to do this. TG I don't work outside the home too, who would have minded him the past 3 weeks?
    Absolutely agree with the important points you raise. The 'short term' issue of the childcare costs have been mentioned online I noticed, women want to stay on the career ladder and need to keep working through the expensive years to do that. And that's their choice.

    YES... to the control issue. Control....AND Divide and conquer.

    The Gardai have no other way of expressing their anger, being treated very shabbily indeed.

    Thanks for your very valued comment :-)

    xx Jazzy

  3. Wow! I had no idea that is going on in your beautiful country (where many of my ancestors hail from). We get so caught up in our own headlines here of budget shortfalls, out of control government spending, etc. that we don't even realize what is going on elsewhere.

    You did a very fine job of stating what would also be my opinion and reasonings if I lived there. I hope they sort it all out~

  4. Leo’s remark so incensed me. Apart all the points you raised Jazzy, and the extra point raised by Looking For Blue Sky, there is at least one other aspect: the threat to the basic human right that is the “Right to Work”. Once this is questioned in any way, especially if this question is targeted at a particular section of society (in this instance, according to Leo, women) we as a society are engaged on a very dangerous slope. This makes me very VERY uncomfortable.

    BTW, great post!

  5. @Shelly: Governments and austerity are the same the world over it seems! Although it is quite severe here and very difficult to swallow as it's Germany and the Troika ultimately dictating all of this. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    @Nan P: He was silly. To be honest he was just interpreting the guidelines. He should have said 'spouse' or 'parent'. We're not stupid, we would have copped that ultimately it would effect mainly women but the emphasis would have changed entirely and a proper 'budgeting' and 'cost of going out to work' debate could have taken place instead! And I agree with the 'right to work' aspect of course. It re-inforces the importance of focusing on costs of working I think?

    @Blue Sky: Another thing about the short term aspect of child care costs occured to me. Some child minders don't reduce their costs when the child goes to school! I know mine didn't, she was on call and would have to collect from school she said. Probably different with creches though.

    Another point concerning child care relates to our individualisation taxation system. I tried to not mention this in my post as it's my bugbear and would send me off on a tangent! It really needs re-visiting and we MUST remember that it was introduced in the Budget in December 1999 and came from Scandavian countries where childcare is much more affordable in order to allow both parents to work! As usual our Government (at the time but they're all the same) cherry picked.

    Thanks for your valued comments and apologies to my non-Irish readers!

    xx Jazzy

  6. I never realised that this was going on. Thank you for educating me about the political, social issues going on in your country at the moment. Your post was very well argued and very well written. Politicians eh? X.

  7. @Older Mum: Politician the same the world over, eh?! Thanks for your kind comment, I tried to write it in a way that could be understood by my UK and US readers too. You never know, they could try this in your country too ;-)

    xx Jazzy

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