By Ann Marie Foley - 15 November, 2018
Broadcaster Ryan Tubridy officially launched the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Annual Appeal yesterday (14 November) along with pupils from St Margaret’s National School, Dublin and St Joseph’s Primary School, Tipperary Town, who sang Christmas carols.
A group of Young SVP students from Tulla, Co. Clare closed the event by performing a song especially written for the launch.
Speaking of his own happy childhood, Ryan Tubridy expressed the wish that no child would suffer pain or poverty.
He praised the adverts for this year’s SVP Christmas appeal, stating: “They are dwelling on the possibility and the positivity that the donation will make to a life. They are saying that if a donation comes in the door the school books are paid for, the house is heated, the belly is full, the child retains his or her dignity, continues through school and out the other end and hopefully it gets better. That’s the message that has to be delivered.”
SVP highlighted that 6 weeks ahead of Christmas it is already receiving an average of 1000 calls for help to offices around the country every day. “Last year our volunteers visited approximately 50,000 families over the winter and we expect to visit at least the same number this year,” said SVP National President Kieran Stafford at the launch of the Annual Appeal.
He added that although Ireland is now among the top 5 richest countries in the world, more than 6% of the population (780,000 people) is living below the poverty line.
“Poverty in Ireland in 2018 takes many forms, and is primarily driven by low income and lack of access to good quality jobs and affordable housing, health, education and childcare,” he said.
“Many of the families we visit will struggle to make ends meet this Christmas and some will consider borrowing money to meet the extra expenses they face at this time of year. Being able to access affordable credit, rather than loans with extremely high interest rates, is essential if families are to avoid becoming over-indebted,” he said.
He urged anyone who is struggling, particularly with the cost of education, fuel and food to ask SVP for help.
Yesterday SVP also welcomed the proposal to cap interest rates, but expressed concern about access to affordable credit for those on low incomes.
SVP was referring to a research report published yesterday (14 November 2018) by the Social Finance Foundation titled: Interest rate restrictions on credit for low income borrowers, which recommended the introduction of a cap on the maximum interest rates that can be charged to borrowers.
Around 350,000 people borrow from licensed moneylenders. Caroline Fahey, SVP Head of Social Justice said: “Moneylenders are meeting a need for access to credit but often at a cost which people who are better off and who have other options would baulk at. Repaying such a high cost loan is a very heavy burden for households that are struggling.”
SVP wants moneylenders to adhere to the Consumer Code for Licensed Moneylenders, which prohibits offering roll-over loans. Caroline Fahey added: “The Central Bank must monitor the operation of licensed moneylenders, and must sanction those who are not operating according to the Code.”
Kieran Stafford said that addressing issues like interest rates is important, but there is a need to consider why so many people are resorting to high cost moneylenders. Affordable options like the Credit Union need to be expanded to more people on low incomes.
Caroline Fahey said that the ‘It Makes Sense’ loan is currently being offered by about half of Credit Unions nationwide and allows people on social welfare payments to take out a loan and repay it through the Household Budget Scheme or by a direct debit, building up their credit rating and giving access to more affordable credit.
She pointed out that a €500 ‘It Makes Sense’ loan, repaid over 6 months with an APR of 12.68%, will charge interest of €15.84. The same loan from a licensed moneylender at a rate of 187.2% APR will charge €150 in interest.