Friday 9 December 2016

More apply for formal debt deals but progress 'too slow'

Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30

New figures from the Insolvency Service of Ireland showed that almost 900 people applied to put a formal arrangement in place with their lenders. Picture posed. Stock Image
New figures from the Insolvency Service of Ireland showed that almost 900 people applied to put a formal arrangement in place with their lenders. Picture posed. Stock Image

The number of financially stretched people applying for a State-sanctioned debt deal has doubled.

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But the actual number of deals put in place is down.

New figures from the Insolvency Service of Ireland showed that almost 900 people applied to put a formal arrangement in place with their lenders.

The figures were for the three months to the end of September.

This was up 102pc on the same three months last year.

But the number of heavily indebted people who secured a formal deal from their banks and other lenders fell in the three months to September, when compared with the same quarter last year.

Just 180 people had a deal known as a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA) approved in the July to September period.

This was down by five PIAs in the same quarter last year.

A PIA allows a person to reduce what they are paying, and return to solvency while staying in their home.

There was also a fall in the number of bankruptcies, from 26pc to just 61 in the third quarter.

In the year so far, a total of 345 people were declared bankrupt, compared with 479 for full-year 2015.

This is despite the term for bankruptcy being reduced recently to one year.

Insolvency Service director Lorcan O'Connor blamed the summer recess in the bankruptcy courts for the fall.

Large numbers of people are still struggling to pay their mortgages.

The number of people two years or more in arrears on their mortgages was close to 35,000 in June, down slightly from the previous quarter, Central Bank figures showed.

Those in arrears for more than two years risk losing their home.

"This quarter saw continued growth in new applications with protective certificates and approved arrangements at similar levels to last quarter," Mr O'Connor said.

"When compared to the same period last year, there is significant growth in all categories."

So far, some 4,000 people have gone through processes overseen by the Insolvency Service to return to solvency.

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation said the progress being made by the Insolvency Service was too slow.

"In the context of the overall problem, the progress is still lamentably slow.

"At the rate of 180 a quarter, it will take 48-and-a-half years to clear just those who are in arrears of two years or more."

Irish Independent

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