Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has today launched the results of her survey on household debt.
Close to 500 respondents participated in the survey, which seeks to tell the true story of the extent and impact of household debt in Ireland.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“I launched this survey to learn the extent to which households have been affected by debt, since the pandemic struck. While I anticipated that many households would have been affected financially by the current crisis, the results make for shocking reading and paint a picture of many workers and families in dire financial positions.
“Of the almost 500 responses, 94% are concerned about their household debt. 80% of people surveyed have seen an increase in their debt since Covid-19 struck.
“Just under half (48%) of those who responded have increased borrowings to manage their debt and 58% are in arrears with repayments, including utility bills.
“The survey also found that 38% of those who responded are in rental or mortgage arrears and 33% have lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. 67% of respondents said that their income had reduced since Covid-19 struck.
“Behind every statistic is a person or family in crisis. The most striking part of this campaign has been reading the over 340 comments left by participants of the survey. People shared their stories of how debt has left a profound impact on their lives.
“I have been taken aback by the harrowing accounts of people both in rural and urban areas – showing how common debt can be across different sections of our communities.
“It’s very clear that the supports needed to tackle the issue of household debt go far beyond financial supports alone. Many people shared how debt has impacted on their mental health. I want to reiterate that anyone in a crisis can receive support for their mental health and I am providing details of support resources for those who need them.
“I am passionate about ensuring the issue of household debt is no longer ignored or sidelined. People cannot suffer in silence, or face Government indifference on this vital issue.
“I am determined to represent them by putting the issue of household debt firmly on the agenda. In two weeks’ time, a Budget will be revealed. Sinn Féin are clear that this Budget must support those workers and families most impacted by the pandemic.
“We will be outlining those detailed measures in the coming days. One clear first step to supporting those struggling with household debt is to ensure workers and families have access to essential financial supports.
“On the same day that Government cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment took effect, a MABS survey suggesting almost 1 million people are concerned about debt was published. These cuts need to be reversed and the full PUP restored as a vital first step to protecting workers and families in or facing debt.”
If you are worried about household debt, please know you are not alone. You can contact the Samaritans on freephone 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247247.
You can seek financial advice and support confidentially from MABS (Money Advice & Budgeting Service) through their Helpline on 0761072000