The Personal Insolvency (Amendment) (No.1) Bill 2020 announced by Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee T.D., will reform personal insolvency legislation to increase supports for borrowers whose income has been severely hit by the pandemic.
The Citizens Information Board (CIB) and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) have been working with the Department of Justice and Equality to bring about these much-needed changes.
One of the positive provisions requested by MABS that has been included is the increase of the asset threshold to make it easier for a debtor to qualify for a Debt Relief Notice.
Speaking on behalf of MABS, Michelle O’ Hara, South Leinster, Regional Manager, said: “The increase in the asset threshold from €400 to €1,500 for a debtor will make DRNs accessible to more people who may have debts up to €35,000 written-off.”
The provision for virtual meetings between debtors and Approved Intermediaries and PIP’s will also significantly increase the ability of debtors to access sustainable statutory solutions for their debt while reducing their close contacts during COVID-19.
Where it applies, an additional extension by 40 days of the duration of a Protective Certificate, offers additional protections to a debtor and their assets from legal proceedings from creditors whilst they apply for a Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) or a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA).
Under the provisions of Section 115a debtors’ whose PIA has been rejected by creditors, may have this reviewed by the Court. The outcome of a successful review may result in the debtors’ keeping their home. The lifting of date restrictions to cater for those in home mortgage arrears since the 1st January 2015 will level the playing field, allowing Court reviews for debtors, regardless of the date they fell into arrears.
Michelle added: “We in MABS are dealing every day with people who are struggling with debt and the economic impacts of COVID-19. Our recent research shows that the impact is both emotional and financial. Our helpline, messenger service and local services are dealing with clients who have a range of concerns from utility bills and credit card debt to more serious mortgage arrears difficulties. My key advice to people is to talk directly to your lender. If you find this difficult MABS is here to support you.”
MABS can be contacted on 0818 07 2000, Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm, through Whatsapp or find your nearest MABS office.