Just 200 people have used Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service.

Tuesday 17 December 2013 10.47
Claims that Mortgage Advice Centre does not help those in mortgage-arrears who are trying to engage with banks
Claims that Mortgage Advice Centre does not help those in mortgage-arrears who are trying to engage with banks

A group representing mortgage-holders in distress has said a service set up by the Department of Social Protection to advise home-owners in arrears is an embarrassment and should be shut down.

This follows a review by the Department of its Independent Financial Advice Service, set up as part of the of the Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service.

The review found just 200 people had used the Advice Service in the last 12 months.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland David Hall, Director of the Irish Mortgage-Holders Organisation, said the service did not help those in mortgage-arrears who were trying to engage with banks, and were completing standard financial statements.

He said accountants engaged by mortgage-holders under the scheme could only interpret offers being made by banks to those in mortgage distress at the end of the process.

Mr Hall said the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) should be used to set up a statutory stand-alone agency to protect the interests of debtors.

Commenting on a report by the credit ratings agency Fitch, which predicted that 20% of those in arrears will have their homes repossessed, Mr Hall said this was a long-standing issue which had been woefully and pathetically handled by all parties concerned.

He said he believed an element of selective repossession would take place whereby if a debtor had a house in a part of the country which would be less attractive for a bank to reposes and sell, banks would seek different restructuring options.