| 7.1°C Dublin

FG to help mortgage holders

Fine Gael has pledged to give the country's struggling mortgage holders a break if elected in the General Election.

Forcing lenders getting State support to cut wages and costs by €100m and making them renegotiate mortgage terms with householders to avoid repossessions are among its proposals.

Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan said: "As a country and as a people we have all taken on a monstrous burden of debt from our banks that we will end up repaying for generations to come.

"Fine Gael believes it is time for ordinary families who are in mortgage distress to get a break now."

The party's measures include:

- Legislation to stop lenders imposing penalty rates were rates have been rescheduled.

- Helping families in arrears by capping mortgage interest supplement payments to banks.

- Preventing repossessions by making taxpayer backed banks allow homeowners to renegotiate mortgage terms. A Deferred Interest Scheme (DIS) will also enable borrowers who can pay at least 66pc of their mortgage interest to defer payment of the unpaid interest for up to five years.

- Forcing mortgage providers in receipt of State support to cut costs by €100m instead of hiking interest rates.

- As previously revealed, it will put aside €120m in additional mortgage interest reliefs for the negative equity generation - first time buyers who bought homes between 2004 and 2008 - financed in part with the abolition of relief for new buyers from June 2011.

- A new negative equity insurance will give security for prudent lenders and borrowers against future risks of negative equity.

Mr Noonan added: "In the event that a family is forced to sell their home due to adverse economic circumstances, any difference between the loan value and the sale proceeds is paid for by the insurance scheme.

"This means that families with mortgages covered by such insurance will no longer be left to shoulder the burden of negative equity."

Mr Noonan maintained up to 40,000 mortgages are in arrears of more than three months, with 28,000 of these in arrears for more than six months.

"Last year alone, 600 people had their homes repossessed, leaving families homeless and banks making a loss," he continued.

"Without action, this can only get worse.

"Fine Gael will expect every family and every business to do everything they can to service their debts.

"However, where families and businesses have made best efforts and still are unable to repay their debts, we'll support them through the recession and help them back to a point where they can manage their debt."

PA Media