The Government has launched a scheme to give funding to people at risk of having their homes repossessed so that they can seek the services of personal insolvency experts.
Around €15m is being spent on the service, to be known as Abhaile – the Irish for home. It offers financial and legal advice and will be free for those who are eligible. The scheme has been running on a pilot basis for some time and, so far, 1,000 distressed borrowers have been assisted.
To qualify for the scheme, the mortgage holder must be in arrears and insolvent.
People can apply for the scheme through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) or through a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP) the list of which can be obtained through www.isi.gov.ie or www.backontrack.ie
Eligible clients are given € 500 vouchers to pay for expert advice from financial and legal advisers to help them sort out their debt issues. They can also get assistance in court, have access to solicitors, and get help obtaining legal aid plus financial advice from a dedicated mortgage arrears adviser, a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP), or an accountant.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the number of people in mortgage arrears has been falling consistently but there are still 35,000 mortgage accounts in arrears of 720 days or more. “Many of them have been served repossession orders, and many are at risk of losing their homes, and are not engaging with their lenders out of fear of despair.” Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar said the objective of the scheme is to help those who are insolvent to stay in their homes and prevent the “drift towards homelessness”.
He said there are people who need the assistance of Government to resolve their debt issues. “I really want to appeal to those people, if they haven’t engaged with MABS, to do so now.”
John Lowe the Money Doctor and a Personal Insolvency Practitioner said “ There is a stagnancy in mortgage arrears. The two year and over number in arrears has not decreased since 2009 and plainly there are borrowers in serious pain and trouble. This is another step in the right direction and an olive branch to those who thought help would never reach them. I welcome this initiative.”