Home Payments ceases trading

 

Home Payments, the Dublin-based budgeting and bill pay service, has ceased trading with immediate effect, potentially resulting in substantial losses for customers.

The company offered a number of services, including a household budgeting service where consumers made payments to the company and it paid their household bills as they fell due. It also operated a savings scheme.

In a statement posted on its website and in the window of its office in Rathmines, the company’s directors said they were acting to protect customer deposits.

“The directors have also been advised this course of action is in the best interests of all their customers and creditors,” it said.

The company said it had been hit by the downturn in the property market, in which it had made a number of investments. “The decline in values in this sector has had a significant negative impact on the value of these investments,” it added.

The statement said the company, which was established in 1963, held discussions with its lenders to restructure its repayments but had been left with no option but to close.

The National Consumer Agency urged any customers of Home Payments to immediately contact their bank to cancel any direct debits to the company.

“Home Payments Ltd have ceased trading but are not in liquidation. Until such time as a liquidator is appointed, customers of the company will not know how their funds will be treated,” it said.

The agency also called for Government to urgently legislate for the regulation of all companies that take money from consumers for debt management.

“This is an appalling situation for the consumers involved, where they paid money to a company so that they could manage their household budget,” said chief executive Ann Fitzgerald. “This is a clear case of an industry that urgently requires regulation so that clients’ funds are legally required to be ring-fenced and therefore protected in cases where a company ceases trading.”

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins called for a bailout fund for Home Payment customers.

"Unless Home Payment is bought or taken over by the state a liquidator will be appointed and the customers will be regarded as unsecured investors and therefore will be the last to be considered in the settlement of Home Payments' debts," he said.

"I call on the Government to investigate what took place at Home Payments and to take it into public ownership, protect the jobs of the ordinary employees in the firm and treat the customers as you would the depositors in a bank and guarantee the money they paid in. Anything short of this would be a cruel injustice."