New Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service offers hope to stressed homeowners
Angela Black, Chief Executive of the Citizens Information Board (CIB) welcomes the launch of Abhaile - the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service, which was officially launched (today) by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D, and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar T.D.
"This new service brings much needed hope and support to stressed borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes. They will now have access to free expert financial and legal advice", said Angela Black. "The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) which is funded and supported by CIB has been at the forefront of debt advice in Ireland for over 20 years so is ideally placed to be the gateway to this service".
She added: "All applications for aid and advice will go through MABS. An additional 26 Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (DMA) Advisors will provide people with the free voucher for the professional service they need. I would encourage anyone worried about their mortgage arrears to contact MABS who have offices nationwide, or call the MABS Helpline on 0761 07 2000 Monday – Friday 9am-8pm. The service is free, confidential and independent. A DMA Advisor will help find the best solution - this could include referral to a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) or a solicitor."
The voucher scheme has been operational since July this year and so far 1,340 borrowers have been helped. The vouchers have issued within 24 hours of request by the Personal Insolvency Practitioner. This should ensure that anyone in difficulty can now get the help they need without delay and allow more people find a permanent and sustainable solution over the coming months.
"The feedback we’re getting on the service is promising, both in terms of borrowers’ engagement with PIPs and solicitors and recently with the on-duty solicitors who are there, alongside the MABS Court Mentors, as a support for borrowers at repossession hearings", said Annmarie O’Connor MABS Business Manager.
The Scheme provides five different fixed packages of professional financial or legal advice. These are the PIP Service, the Accountant Service, the Consultation Solicitor Service, the Duty Solicitor Service and the Personal Insolvency Court Review Service. MABS can refer a borrower to one or more of these services, depending on their needs.
The Citizens Information Board will govern the new Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service (Abhaile) and will be responsible for driving a communications and promotion campaign, aimed primarily at securing engagement and solutions for those in long term arrears and who are not engaging with their lender.
"CIB is delighted to have been given responsibility for this new service and the promotion campaign that will seek to overcome the fear and anxiety of those 35,000 homeowners that are currently in arrears over two years", said Angela Black. "The Service is being put in place for three years and is expected to cost up to €15 million."
The Citizens Information Board has a strong track record of funding and supporting several important public services including the Citizens Information Service, the Citizens Information Phone Service, the National Advocacy Service for people with disabilities, the Personal Microcredit Scheme and the Sign Language Interpreting Service.
Information on the new service is available at www.keepingyourhome.ie/mars/
Contact the MABS helpline on 0761 07 2000 Monday to Friday 9am-8pm or find a local MABS office at www.mabs.ie.
Pictured at the launch of the new Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service (Abhaile) are: Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Angela Black, Chief Executive, CIB and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD.