Central Bank New Debt Resolution Plan

The Central Bank’s new plan for assisting distressed borrowers to get out from under their excessive household debt is, if it works, a welcome addition to the growing (though still largely unimplemented) suggested solutions to the debt cancer that has riddled households throughout the country.

The pilot plan is mainly focused on those who will not qualify for the new Personal Insolvency legalisation because they are not insolvent although they may be having difficulties paying their loans. This would typically include someone who has a home mortgage but not in negative equity and have some other unsecured loans such as credit union loans, credit card debts and/or term loans.

The new pilot plan will, with the assistance of a service provider (SP), bring the lenders together and agree a temporary restructuring of the payments, term and sometimes interest rates on all loans to bring the payments down to a manageable level until such time as the Debtors situation has improved or the loans are cleared. However, the new plan does not envisage any significant write offs of loans and any small write offs of debt will only apply to unsecured debt.

In fact of the 8 scenarios outlined in the debt resolutions “waterfall” in the Framework for a Pilot Approach to the Co-ordinated Resolution of Multiple Debts owed by a Distressed Borrower there is only 1 scenario which envisages any possibility of a debt write down. All of the other scenarios include restructuring however there is interest being charged on all debt of between 4.5% and 9% depending on the debt and level of distress. This is hardly a good deal for the borrower …. as usual!

The level and type of debt that currently exists in households throughout the nation would suggest that this new plan is not going to be a significant problem solver. It will address some small limited cases but not the vast majority of cases where nothing but significant write downs of home loans will provide a solution for the majority of debtors struggling to survive never mind pay their unsecured loans.

The new plan is an indication again that the banks are being pushed slowly towards the cliff of debt forgiveness. Eventually they are going to have to take that leap which will mean that their recapitalisation will happen as discussed in the recent IMF report. This re capitalisation which will be funded by the ECB (not the Irish tax payer) but will have a direct and positive impact on the taxpayer unlike the previous bank bailout which crippled us.

So it looks like we are back to the personal insolvency legalisation and personal insolvency practitioners to get the solutions for people in real distress with their debts. This is where the resolution is and hopefully the insolvency service will be up and running in June as promised so people can finally get long term resolution to their debt problems. And be assured the long term solutions will include significant write off of debts!


Paul C Carroll FCCA

Personal Insolvency Partner

NEO Financial Solutions


2013 time to MOVE ON

The arrival of 2013 has brought some welcome good news if not seismic (unless the news is being described by our Enda Kenny!). The increase in customer spending over the Christmas period, the reported slowing down of the property crash and today the announcement by PTSB that it is to dip its toe back into the lending market in 2013.


However, the biggest thing to happen which will make the single largest contribution to the recovery of the Irish economy and restoration of the dignity of the Irish people is the passing of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. If the banks participate in the insolvency process as it is intended and promised by the minister of justice, it will bring dramatic relief for ordinary people stuck in a household debt trap. It will give those ordinary people the opportunity to ditch most of the excess debt while securing theirs family home and their dignity. The physiological effect of this alone will boost the ability of people to think of other things rather then their debt burden. It will free them to begin to live again knowing that they have down the best they can regarding their debts and now they can move on.

If anything, what Ireland needs in 2013 is to “MOVE ON”. It has become obvious over the past 5 years in Ireland that nobody is willing to take a real hard look at what has happened  to the country because those who need to look are the ones to blame. So what needs to be done now is for everybody to move on. People need to stop looking to have someone to blame for the depression. Banks need to move on and start taking the hits on household debt that they a mostly responsible for in the first place. Bank negotiations should not be so difficult. The political and professional classed should start adding value to the country and stop feathering their own nests like they have been doing for so long.

Ireland is a small county and so easily fixed. We have generated tremendous political respect over the past few years in the way we have tried to deal with our problems. Now it is time that some of that respect is felt by the ordinary people through household debt relief, realistic bank negotiations, proper and full implementation of the Personal Insolvency Act.

Sometimes we forget people are the economy and if we provide people with the ability to survive they will do that and grow bigger, stronger and drive on the road to recovery. That road is in front of us and people want to get on it but they need help. MOVING ON will be the catalyst and our saviour!

Paul C Carroll FCCA

NEO Financial Solutions

Mortgage arrears on the increase and simple solution being ignored

All of the comment yesterday and this morning on the current mortgage arrears situation miss one very important point and that is the significant number of people who are not yet in arrears but who will be in the coming months. The number of people who come to see me who are not yet in arrears is still rising and is of great concern since they are not in any of the arrears figures published yesterday.

Despite what the banks and government want us to believe this problem is getting bigger and nobody is taking it seriously enough to stem the tide. In the Irish times today David Hall of Irish mortgage holds association makes this same point better then I could and has been for some time.

In my recent interview on RTE I spoke of the current environment being different and nothing like what we have seen before. Well it seems to be getting worse through lack of action not because of lack of solutions. In fact since that interview solutions have dried up, banks have been given instructions by the central bank and government NOT to do any deals for debt forgiveness with borrowers. This is the continuation of the government policy of looking after the fat cats and make the people in trouble or most vulnerable pay more.

The upcoming Personal Insolvency Legalisation has been tainted by the fat cat banks and been allowed by the government. So if the banks do not play ball then the legalisation will be another failure for a government which has turned its back on the ordinary people.

It is obvious to everyone that there is a massive household debt problem here which is holding back the people economically and emotionally. This needs to be addressed and quickly. Our leaders should hop on the government jet and head not to Brussels for fancy meetings and dinners but head west to Iceland where they have solved the household debt problem simply and quickly. The Icelandic government nationalised their banks (as we effectively have done) then instructed them to write down all home mortgages to 110% of the property value. This had the effect of releasing the ordinary people from the excesses of massive household debt and in turn helped their economy to become the fastest growing economy in the western world.

Not only that but after having had to let their banks go bust and default on major loans they have successfully returned to the bond markets. The bond traders know how to get their money back when a default happens and that is to lend again! This is something which seems to have passed our government and their advisors by.

The mortgage arrears problems are not going to go away with tinkering around the edges. If the tinkering continues the economic disaster we are experiencing will only get worse! And it looks like that is what is in store for us for a long while!


Paul C Carroll


Personal Insolvency Bill 2012

The Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 was published yesterday without the usual fanfare associated with our current government’s announcements about their attempts to fix our broken state. The announcement was somewhat overshadowed with the (another) seismic shift by the EU on another form of debt relief  … Bank Debts …. Let’s all recognise debt forgiveness is alive and well but just not it seems for the ordinary person!

As some commentators have already stated the banks fingerprints are all over this bill which I would agree with. I also see that the finger prints of our privileged professional classes are also all over the bill too. Items which are unnecessary but included such as the necessity for an annual review of a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) and many court filings smack of professional fee generating schemes and not adding any particular value to the process or to the debtors situation.

I would have several concerns with the bill as it currently is, the first of which is the amount of time a person who makes one of the 3 proposed arrangements available with their creditors is tied up in the arrangement. The time can be anything from 3 years in the case of very small arrangements under the Debt Relief Notice (DRN) to 7 years in a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA). Is it really in the ordinary persons interest to be tied up for such a long time given that they have faced up to their debt issues and just want to get on with their lives?

Another major concern is with the position of strength of the creditors in all of the arrangements where at least 50% and in some cases 65% of all creditors have to agree to the arrangement. This effectively gives the creditor (in most cases the bank) control and we know they just inflect more hardship when they are in charge.

A very worrying aspect of the bill is the ability of a creditor to claw back some debt previously written off! So after the ordinary person puts themselves and their family through one of the arrangements, suffers the stress, worry and loss invariably suffered from the process. Then has some bit of good luck, in say 4 years time after the arrangement is made, most likely after a lot of hard work the bank is the one to gain from the good fortune! What kind of debt resolution is that?

The most positive aspect of the bill is the reduction of the term of bankruptcy, if someone takes the ultimate plunge, from 12 to 3 years. After the 3 year term is up there is an automatic discharge. The 3 year term is longer than the 1 year term in Northern Ireland and the UK but it is progress. Given the terms and length of the 3 proposed arrangements in the bill anyone with significant debts maybe better off  just go ahead with declaring bankruptcy and the 7 year ‘sentence’, annual reviews and possible claw back imposed by the so called arrangements could be avoided.

Paul C Carroll FCCA, Neo Financial Solutions, paul.carroll@neofinancialsolutions.com 01 4370908