The Government has extended the scheme which aims to support families struggling with mortgage arrears.

The Abhaile Scheme will now run until the end of next year.

It was set up in 2016 for three years to assist those who are insolvent and in mortgage arrears.

It does this by providing them with financial and legal advice from experts.

The programme was then extended further in 2019 for a further three years.

To date 19,300 households have been helped under the scheme and 80% of those are in the process of getting a solution or have one in place.

Its focus continues to be borrowers in long term mortgage arrears, for a period of more than 720 days.

Funding comes from the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice.

But the Citizens Information Board, including the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, as well as the Insolvency Service of Ireland, the Legal Aid Board and the Courts Service are all involved in implementing it.

Next year it will cost €8.4m, with €2.5m of that going to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service's dedicated mortgage arrears service.

"The prospect of losing your home can be a deeply traumatic experience for the entire household," said Minister for Social Protection and Justice, Heather Humphreys.

"Given the current cost of living pressures people are under, I felt it was only right to keep the Abhaile Scheme in place until at least the end of 2023."

The number of households in mortgage arrears, though lower than over recent years, remained at over 21,600 at the end of last year.

An independent review of the Abhaile is currently underway and its findings will feed into the Government’s decision making about the longer term future of the scheme next year.