Thursday, 5 July 2012

Questions (59)

Finian McGrath

Question:

52 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the action he will take regarding families experiencing difficulties in repaying mortgages to certain banks (details supplied) should proceed. [32825/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

The Government is acutely aware of the increasing financial stress that some households are facing arising from difficulty in meeting their mortgage commitments. The Deputy will be aware that the Interdepartmental Report on Mortgage Arrears indicated that the reform of personal insolvency legislation is a central catalyst to the resolution of the mortgage arrears problem. In particular, it indicated that new non-judicial debt settlement arrangements are vital to address the problem. The Government published the Personal Insolvency Bill last week and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence has commenced second stage today in the Dáil, with a view to facilitating early passage of the legislation through the Oireachtas in the Autumn session. The legislation provides for a range of options, both non-judicial and judicial through reform of bankruptcy, for insolvent debtors to resolve their personal indebted positions. The Interdepartmental Report also recommended that a Mortgage Advice Service should be provided to advise people in their dealings with mortgage lenders. The Minister for Social Protection is now finalising the appropriate framework for the provision of this service.

Both of these measures will require the utilization of independent and professional expertise to best assist people in difficulty with their mortgages or other debts. In finalising these matters and putting in place the necessary structures, the key objective will be to provide the best possible service in the most efficient manner and this general approach does not preclude the non-profit sector or other sectors from appropriate involvement in those proposed important services.

Finally, it is important to point out that the Financial Services Ombudsman was established on a statutory basis as an independent body to deal with complaints from customers of financial service providers and will continue to fulfil this function. The Minister for Finance is not involved in the day to day workings of the Financial Services Ombudsman Bureau.