Almost one third of local authority mortgages are in arrears, according to the latest figures from the Department of the Environment.

There are over 20,000 mortgage holders on the housing loan books of local authorities nationwide.

In response to a Parliamentary Question from Labour TD Kevin Humphries, the department has revealed that almost 6,300 householders on the local authority loan books are in arrears.

The figures are based on the second quarter of the year and also show that 4,900 mortgages loaned from local authorities are in arrears of over six months.

Just over 1,300 are in arrears for three months.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said it was a matter for the local authorities to deal with the financial implications of what he called a very difficult situation.

Authorities fund mortgages through the Housing and Finance Agency, which is run by the Department of the Environment.