SOMETIMES it seems that almost every silver lining has a cloud. Yesterday, we found that the European Central Bank is preparing to further cut interest rates next month. Today, we find out the Government is tightening the rules for mortgage support.
What Frankfurt might be giving, will most certainly be taken away by Dublin.
The Government has effectively cut the number of families getting this badly needed financial mortgage support by one-quarter.
Intriguingly, at a time when one-in-eight mortgage-holders struggles to keep the repossession wolf from the door, our TDs continue to be allowed claim part of their mortgage costs for constituency offices on their expenses. In some cases the taxpayer is effectively helping a politician buy an asset which will be his or hers into the future to dispose of as they see fit.
The Mortgage Interest Supplement provides short-term support for unemployed homeowners to meet their mortgage- interest repayments. It is worth €4,000 per year on average to a family.
The number of families in mortgage distress has doubled in the past two years – from 49,000 with arrears over 90 days in 2011, to 94,000 now. But during the same period, the number getting mortgage-interest supplement has dropped from 19,000 to 14,000.
This reduction of 5,000 getting the benefit is being attributed to two rule changes: homeowners having to enter a 12-month repayment plan with their bank; and homeowners having to pay more towards their mortgage-interest bill.
This is a very discouraging development and must urgently be re-considered by Government.