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To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the mortgage supplement scheme, in view of the increased numbers of homeowners in difficulty with their mortgage repayments who cannot afford an interest-only arrangement for twelve months; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013

REPLY

The purpose of the mortgage interest supplement scheme is to provide short term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments. There are currently some 12,000 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement for which the Government has provided almost €42 million in 2013.

To ensure that those who are in mortgage difficulty engage with their lender under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) and avail of its forbearance arrangements, from June 2012 the mortgage interest supplement is not payable until applicants have agreed with their lender and complied with an alternative payment arrangement for a cumulative period of not less than 12 months. This measure is in line with that the recommendations of both the Department’s “Review of the Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme” published in July 2010 and the “Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Group” chaired by Mr Hugh Cooney published in November 2010.

This process acknowledges that it is in the interest of both the lender and the borrower to address financial difficulties as speedily and effectively as circumstances allow. The underlying principal is to ensure that the MARP functions alongside State supports. The MARP provides protection for customers without the need for State intervention.

The Central Bank has introduced a revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) which came into effect on 1 July 2013. I am satisfied that the mortgage interest supplement continues to provide suitable support within the revised CCMA framework and I have no plans to amend the conditions of the scheme at this time.

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