New Beginning has questioned the real benefits of a new service to be launched today aimed at creating a 'level playing pitch' between the banks and homeowners, who don't have the same financial expertise.

The organisation established in 2010 to represent distressed homeowners says the description of the service as "independent financial advice" is misleading.

It says that it actually prevents them from receiving independent advice on the full list of options available to them.

New Beginning accountants consulted with their professional bodies this morning to get details of how the scheme would operate.

It has expressed grave concerns with this scheme.

"The independent accountant is prevented from taking part in the negotiation leading up to the proposal and the distressed customer cannot avail of the advice until after the financial institution has issued their resolution proposal," it said.

Earlier, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, had said the new service will provide independent financial advice for distressed mortgage-holders.

She said the government wants people to be able to devise the best possible repayment plan to help them stay in their homes.

The banks have agreed to pay for the independent advice, which will be provided by a panel of qualified accountants, and will be overseen by the Department of Social Protection.

"When people are coming to make a decision about how best to meet their mortgage and what kind of arrangements to finalise with their lender - for instance perhaps going on something like interest only, perhaps changing to one of the newer products of shared equity we're developing - they're very important decisions that a family and an individual who are in mortgage difficulty have to make. At that point we want to give people a bit of extra professional expertise to help them arrive at what's an important and difficult decision", she said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"They need to know what can they afford to pay, what will they be paying under the new arrangements, what are the implications for interest rate costs...a lot of technical detail which they can sit down with an independent financial adviser, with a qualified accountant and go through before they make their decision." The Minister added.

"What we want is to help people to deal with the mortgage difficulty, stay in their own home, but in dealing with the lender, to actually have a plan that's a viable plan for them and their family to maintain their home, and long-term get back on their feet." she said.

She said the independent financial advice will be available after the distressed borrower has been in touch with their lender, and the bank or financial institution has offered them certain options to consider.

The Minister also said that a dedicated helpline to deal with mortgage holders is expected to be fully operational by next week.