FASCINATING new research turns on its head the assumption that most of those in arrears have lost their jobs.
It now transpires that the head of the household is in work in a significant 75pc of mortgage arrears cases.
These people are in a job and may be working hard – but they now form part of the working poor. They have suffered from wage cuts, loss of overtime and may be on reduced hours.
Often their working situation is precarious – they are not long in the job, on a temporary contract, or have a history of unemployment.
And the typical wage for those behind on their mortgage repayment is just €35,000, according to a new working paper by Central Bank economist Yvonne McCarthy.
Many of these people had two incomes when they took out mortgages. And they needed to be in that double-income situation to afford vastly inflated properties, and to maintain those high double incomes to payments.
What the research does not tell us is if the second job has been retained. It is likely that in many of these households the second job is now gone up in smoke.
And there is no mention in the research paper of the government-imposed austerity hits that households have taken.
Higher income taxes, the imposition of the crude and expensive Universal Social Charge (USC), higher VAT, and property tax are just some of the ways the State has plundered household income to support the banks, keep Exchequer spending relatively high, and then pension off all the culprits who presided over the boom-bust.
Ordinary people who borrowed big, when times were good, were not to know that it would all blow up in their faces. They prided themselves as middle class, had ambitions for themselves and their children. But instead they have found themselves in work, earning little, paying huge taxes and running to stand still.
The squeezed middle has been pulverised and punished for the mistakes of others. It is unprecedented in a western country to have so many households in such a financial mess. One in five mortgages in is trouble.
And we do not have decent information on other debts, but an educated guess would tell you that a multitude of other loans are a burden to these households also.
What all of this points to is the crying need for financial support for the over-stretched mortgaged class.
A cut in income tax would deliver such a break and is more than merited to rectify the policy mistakes that have financially enslaved so many of families with young children.
A failure to do this will embitter a whole generation.