2017: CLM holds roundtable discussion on the appropriateness and adequacy of the Caravan Loan Scheme from a legal, financial and social policy perspective
Community Law and Mediation held a roundtable discussion on the Caravan Loan Scheme on the 6th December last in the Law School of Trinity College Dublin. While many members of the settled community use loans to purchase, to renovate or repair their homes, many Travellers face great difficulty in accessing lending services. Section 25 of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 makes provision for local authorities to provide Travellers with access to credit to, among other things, buy or repair a caravan. While previously many local authorities discontinued the Scheme it appears that Caravan Loans Schemes are being revived among certain local authorities. The focus of the roundtable was to examine the adequacy and appropriateness of the Caravan Loan Scheme from a legal, financial and social policy perspective. Two speakers presented on the various aspects of this issue. Patrick Nevin, Co-Ordinator, Tallaght Community Development Project Ltd gave his perspective as an advocate acting on behalf of Traveller families dealing with the new Caravan Loan Scheme in South Dublin County Council. Dermot Sreenan, Joint Co-Ordinator, National Traveller MABS gave an overview of the financial implications of the Caravan Loan Scheme. During the roundtable, we discussed the appropriateness of a loan system for the provision of social housing, the availability of the Caravan Loan Scheme across the country and the potential benefits of applying a scheme at a national rather than local authority level. We also examined the implications for families on social welfare who wish to apply for the Caravan Loan Scheme and the future consequences of the government’s recent recognition of Traveller ethnicity in March 2017.
CLM also held a roundtable on the topic of mental health and the social welfare system in November at the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission offices. Participants examined the challenges faced by applicants who have mental health difficulties in the context of accessing social welfare payments and by recipients who are subject to a medical review process. The roundtable also explored the differences in treatment experienced by applicants who have mental health difficulties in comparison to applicants who have physical disabilities.
Judy Walsh, Director of the Equality Studies Centre at UCD provided an overview of rights in terms of Equality Law and Human Rights Law. John Bohan, Principal Officer with responsibility for Disability & Carer Policy with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection outlined the Department's disability policy. Martin Rogan, CEO Mental Health Ireland addressed the topic from his experience of advocating on behalf of clients and highlighted the challenges faced by applicants with mental health difficulties and their experience of navigating the social welfare system.
We would like to thank all of our excellent speakers and attendees for what was a very engaging and informative discussion. Many thanks also to the staff of the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission for their help in organising the event.
CLM intends to draft a submission following on from the roundtable and shall make recommendations in terms of changes or measures that could be put in place that could accommodate the needs of applicants with mental health difficulties.