Monday 19 March 2018

Insolvency applicants who can get bus won't be allowed a car

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

Tough lifestyle conditions to be imposed on people who attempt to write off mortgage debt under the Government's new Insolvency regime include a warning that those living on public transport routes will not be allowed to include the running of a car as one of their expenses.

The guidelines will also impose lifestyle conditions for families, who will be expected to eat healthily and cut back on leisure activities.

Although those who avail of the service will be expected to drop pay-for-view television and private health care, they will be allowed enough money to at least purchase a newspaper and books.

In spite of the banks' efforts to depress the level of personal expenditure allowed to those seeking an escape from mortgage arrears, the Insolvency Service has decided that while a "reasonable standard of living does not mean that a person should live at a luxury level neither does it mean that a person should only live at subsistence level''.

Instead, those attempting to write off mortgage debt "should be able to participate in the life of the community, as other citizens do''.

Any settlement with banks should allow debtors and their families "to eat nutritious food . . . to have clothes for different weather and situations, to have furniture and equipment at home for rest and recreation, to be able to devote some time to leisure activities, and to read books, newspapers and watch television".

However, when it comes to transport, the service will take the view that "the household will not normally need a car where the applicant lives in an urban location with adequate public transport links''.

And where public transport is not adequate "the vehicle option will be based on the needs of the household rather than its wants''.

It has also emerged that working parents paying for childcare will be able to factor the "significant expense where childcare is needed" into their allowable income.

But the guidelines also warn that "proof in the form of receipts, bank statements or similar may have to be sought where childcare costs appear excessive''.

Those with elderly relatives living in the house will also be able to include the cost of their care in their allocated weekly budget.

However, householders will have to embrace healthy living when they are deciding their food budget as the allowable expenditure will be "based on a balanced, nutritious diet'', which is also "premised on a healthy lifestyle''.

"Personal hygiene and grooming items'' are also allowed but applicants must quit any private health care schemes they belong to.

But applicants will be allowed to incorporate "health medications, and visits to a general practitioner, optician, dentist'' and also include "small items such as plasters, antiseptic, and over-the counter medicines''.

Homeowners should also include "waste charges, getting an annual boiler service, and having chimneys swept", as allowable living expenses when deciding assessing household budget.

And although Sky Sports won't be allowed, applicants will be able to include the costs of "telephone, postage and basic internet'' in their household bills.

For children, the cost of "uniforms, books, and stationary'' will be included.

The scheme will also allow participants to maintain "home insurance and also car insurance where a car is needed'' and "life assurance for households with dependents''.

And although holidays won't be allowed, "sports activities and social events such as visits to the cinema'' are permissible.

Irish Independent

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