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I've lost my job and can't afford my mortgage

I have recently lost my full time job but got 20 hours a week on a temporary basis. I simply can't afford my mortgage on what I earn. Would I qualify for any State assistance?

You may qualify for state assistance to help pay the interest due each month by way of Mortgage Interest Supplement. It is currently being paid to about 18,000 people who meet the following criteria:

• You must have bought the house when you could normally have met the repayments.

• The house has not been put up for sale.

• The mortgage must be "reasonable" for your needs i.e. not a mansion.

• If you are in mortgage arrears the payment will be deferred for 12 months under the MARP process.

The payment is means tested, but some savings are ignored for calculation purposes on a sliding scale.

While households completely dependent on social welfare would qualify, those with one person in part-time employment may not.

If you or your partner are working 30 hours or more a week and either is claiming social welfare it would tip you over into "means".

Social Welfare deduct at least €30 for every person in the house who's not a dependent.

In addition, you must pay at least €30 per week towards your mortgage interest. Social welfare will not contribute to reducing the amount borrowed.

The calculation of the relief is somewhat complex, but if you get onto citizens information (citizensinforma-tion.ie) or your local health office, they'll do it for you, taking into account your personal circumstances. You'll continue to receive the benefit as long as you qualify.

I work for a company in the Pharma sector with a PhD in my area of study. I am 33 years old and recently decided to apply for a mortgage. I want to make sure I get the benefit of the extra mortgage interest relief this year. I have been employed in my present job for seven years. However, my bank is giving me a hard time with my application. When I queried it, they mentioned a report in the local paper that the group I work for is closing down a pallet and storage facility. It won't affect my job, but this is very unfair.

Yes, it is. Frank Conway, of Moneycoach.ie calls it the "We like you but not the folks you hang out with" clause.

"This has been happening where lenders become really nervous as soon as the words 'closure' or 'layoffs' are mentioned next to the name of any employer. In your case, you need to make sure you argue that in this case, the closure is not related to the core activity of your employer and that you are a member of the core production team (I presume you are as you have a PhD in the area)".

Banks are so frightened of risky lending that they're backing off at the slightest thing, no matter how short-sighted it seems.

Could you get a letter from your employer stating your permanency and role within the organisation? It also might be worth applying to other banks which have less stringent qualifications.

Indo Property