Armstrong welcomes suspension of debt collection but repayment clarification needed

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said while she welcomes the Department for Communities suspending debt collection for three months, the Minister needs to clarify repayment terms for those in arrears.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said her Department would pause the recovery of benefit overpayments and loan repayments from a number of social security benefit for three months, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is a welcome move that will financially help many of those with outstanding issues relating to overpayments or repayments,” said Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong.

“However, some details remain unclear. The Minister needs to clarify the terms of how repayments will now take place. The coronavirus pandemic is going to undoubtedly have a major impact on our economy and we will all be feeling the effects for some time.

“The worst case scenario in this instance is for repayments to start again in three months and to see financial relief for many people turn into a nightmare later this year.”