Tuesday 25 October 2016

Mortgage PR move dismissed as a stunt

John Downing and Charlie Weston

Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30

Attack: Michael McGrath
Attack: Michael McGrath

The Government is seeking a public relations firm to create a national communications strategy to help people in mortgage arrears.

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But the plans for the €300,000 contract have been dismissed as an example of political "spinning" ahead of the general election.

According to the Department of Finance, the successful tenderer will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications strategy around Government-funded and other available supports for borrowers in arrears.

The development comes as the Insolvency Service of Ireland also sought tenders for a separate media campaign to raise awareness of its operations among the public.

The contract has a notional value of €650,000, which includes money for advertising across various media.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said mortgage holders struggling with arrears didn't need to see another PR campaign from the Government.

He dismissed it as an example of a political stunt.

"What they want is real action. It is over two months since a package of measures was promised on mortgage arrears.

"This needs to be urgently implemented as well as providing the necessary funding for a mortgage-to-rent scheme," said Mr McGrath.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil will this week again turn up the heat on the Government over the mortgage interest issue ahead.

The Government is vulnerable on the issue having at first downplayed it, and later created the impression it could oblige the banks to cut variable interest rates, which are more than twice the eurozone average.

Mr McGrath yesterday introduced draft legislation in the Dáil that would oblige the Central Bank to assess the mortgage market and study banks' costs against their profit margins.

The Central Bank would be given a range of direct powers on mortgage rates, including the ability to direct a lender not to charge a rate which exceeds either a specified maximum rate or a margin above the lender's cost of funds or a margin above the ECB rate.

Irish Independent

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