Saturday 25 February 2017

20,000 will need state aid to pay their mortgage

Emmet Oliver

ALMOST 20,000 people are likely to need help from the State paying their mortgage by the end of the year.

Homeowners in commuter counties Kildare and Meath in particular are among the most in need, statistics released by the Government last night indicated. Almost 3,000 people in these counties now get help.

The Department of Social Welfare estimates 19,720 people will qualify for the mortgage-interest supplement by the end of this year, a rise of 10pc on the figures at the end of last year. There are 17,974 getting help throughout the country.

The latest figures were released ahead of fresh data today from the Central Bank, which will show 7pc of mortgages are in arrears.

The mortgage-interest supplement is designed to give short-term help to borrowers struggling with their mortgages.

Breakdown

A geographical breakdown of mortgage-interest payments shows that significant problems exist in commuter counties, with 1,346 recipients in Kildare and 1,333 in Meath. Predictably, the largest number of recipients was in Dublin at 4,174.

Payments can only be used to pay the interest on the mortgage and only for households who are not selling their home.

The latest figures came as Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said banks had to do more to help struggling homeowners.

She said it was preferable to leave banks to deal with customers on an individual basis, rather than bringing in a blanket debt-forgiveness plan.

The figures today from the Central Bank will show the number of mortgages in arrears rising to 7pc of all loans, from 6.3pc at the end of March. At that point, 49,609 home loans were in arrears, which represented 6.3pc of all private residential mortgages. This is compared with an arrears level of 5.7pc at the end of December.

The latest figures showed that 62,936 loans had been restructured in some way, with borrowers either just paying their interest, or some having their loan extended, while others were not paying any interest at present.

Personal finance expert Brendan Burgess last week accused some economists of exaggerating the scale of the problem. Mr Burgess said the best way to approach the problem was to help people out of houses they could no longer afford.

Ms Burton said last night: "The premise behind the mortgage-interest supplement is to support families who have suffered a loss of income and may be unable to meet the mortgage repayment."

She added that rent supplement worth €465m was available to help those unable to meet their rental costs.

Irish Independent

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