Split families – Emigrating to pay an Irish home mortgage

13 Aug 2012

Split families – Emigrating to pay an Irish home mortgage

A report published today on new Irish emigrants to the UK, indicates that the collapse of the construction industry continues to be a major reason for emigration and that families are finding themselves split by negative equity mortgage traps.

The report published by the Crosscare Migrant Project also shows that Irish emigrants are not aware of their entitlements to welfare supports in the UK. The report is based on interviews conducted at Busáras Bus Station in Dublin with people queuing for buses to Leeds and London.

Policy Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project, Joe O’Brien said, “While some of the people we spoke to had pre-arranged employment or had family connections, it was concerning that many had virtually no knowledge of entitlements in the UK. Those with no pre-arranged employment or social connections in the UK are at particular risk of falling into vulnerable situations or even destitution.”

The report includes ten case studies of Irish people travelling to the UK for work. This includes the case of Tim[1][1] which shows the combined impact of job loss and negative equity mortgage traps, when couples simply cannot sell their family home to emigrate together:

Tim (39) from Laois is travelling to London. He was let go from a job in Ireland without a redundancy payment. He is married and has two children aged 7 and 10 and his wife is working part-time. Tim and his wife are paying a mortgage in Ireland for the family home. Tim said that if he did not emigrate they would have fallen behind on mortgage payments.  He says that he will have to continue working in Britain until he can get full time permanent work in Ireland. He tries to get home once a month for a weekend but it is not always possible due to travel costs and work commitments. Tim says, “My kids don’t really understand why I have to work in England but they try. It is hard on my wife coping alone but she has her family around her and these things have to be done. I don’t want to sit at home on the dole”.

Mr. O’Brien added, “We know that some people have to leave the country to support burdensome Irish mortgages, because the property crash now means that the family home is unsellable. The result is not that a family has to leave Ireland, but rather that a family is split with one parent emigrating to support a mortgage for a home that is unsellable.

Mr. O’Brien said that urgent research was needed to ascertain not only the scale of this problem but the impact this is having on the families in question. While the research sample was small, 2011 saw the largest annual jump in new Irish emigrants to the UK in since the 1990s.

The report also found that some people were commuting between Ireland and the UK, rather than emigrating in the traditional long-term sense.  Mr. O’Brien warned against such commuting migrants not preparing adequately and said that “while the UK can be easier and cheaper to travel to than some parts of Ireland, it is a different country and of course still has a variety of different systems that some people may not have prepared for”. He advised people to do pre-departure research and to contact Crosscare Migrant Project’s pre-departure advice service located in Cathedral St., Dublin 1, on 01-8732844 or by emailing [email protected].


Further information: Carol Faulkner, Communications Office, Archdiocese of Dublin 01 8360723/087617297

Joe O’Brien, Policy Officer, Crosscare Migrant Project 018732844/ 0879608540

Notes to editor:

Crosscare Migrant Project is an information, advocacy and referral organisation for migrants in vulnerable situations. It is a project of Crosscare, the Social Care Agency of the Dublin Archdiocese.

Their work with Irish emigrants is supported by the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs

The full title of the report is ‘A short survey of Irish people using bus services to emigrate to Britain’.  It can be downloaded at www.migrantproject.ie by following the link on the homepage, ‘New Irish Emigration: 2012 Reports’.

This is the first of three reports on new Irish emigration. Two more reports by the Crosscare Migrant Project will be published in the coming months.

[1][1] The name and address in this case study has been changed to protect the identity of the participant.