Missed opportunity to support vulnerable Travellers – Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Social Protection, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed the commitment of Minister Burton to address the closure of an easy-pay loan repayment facility, the Lough Payment scheme.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh however, has criticised the Government for missing the opportunity to reintroduce this scheme which gives assistance to financially vulnerable Travellers.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
“It’s a shame that the Government have not used the opportunity of this Bill to reintroduce what was a scheme assisting Travellers in accessing affordable credit through their credit unions. This scheme, known as the Lough Payment scheme, was developed over several years alongside the National Traveller MABS.
“The scheme was brought about to protect people from having to resort to loan sharks and money lenders. It took time and work to establish, but it proved to be very successful.
“The scheme is now at an end. This has caused some problems and the National Traveller MABS has identified some of the trouble spots for Travellers who get into difficulty with debts. Examples of debts that were being paid but that cannot now be deducted include credit union loans and payments to private debt companies.
"I tabled an Amendment to reintroduce the Lough Payment Scheme as well as a provision to pay off debt via deductions to social welfare payments.
“This scheme is a tried and tested measure to protect people from financial exclusion. It is a pity that the Minister has been unable to facilitate this Amendment and protect those who are most vulnerable.”