Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1489)

Thomas P. Broughan


1489. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans for supporting and funding the dedicated mortgage arrears service provided by MABS in the medium-term (details supplied); the measures she is taking to engage with staff, MABS boards and the Citizens Information Board to ensure the service is still available to persons in mortgage difficulty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19727/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, (CIB) provides assistance to people, in particular those on low incomes or living on social welfare payments, who are over-indebted and need help and advice with debt problems. As part of its free services, MABS provides help and advice to those in mortgage arrears.

The Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (DMA) advice service which operates across the MABS regional network was established in 2015, as part of the Government's response to providing supports to mortgage holders in arrears. 

The DMA service aims to ensure that borrowers in mortgage arrears have access to information on the range of supports and options available to them and, where required, negotiates with lenders on their behalf.  To date, it has helped almost 7,000 borrowers with mortgage arrears issues.

An allocation of €2.5 million for the DMA service was provided as part of CIB’s overall funding for 2019 and this is expected to meet the costs of the service to the end of 2019.  The CIB receives its overall budget allocation for all services including DMA on an annual basis.

Since its inception, the DMA service has become an integral part of the Abhaile suite of services, which provides access for people who are insolvent and in mortgage arrears, to independent financial and / or legal advice and assistance under a voucher scheme accessed through MABS.  Abhaile is jointly coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. MABS, CIB, the Insolvency Service of Ireland and the Legal Aid Board are working together to provide the various Abhaile services.

A Steering Board comprising senior officials of both Departments and stakeholder organisations has already commenced a strategic review of the Abhaile service’s operation, and future objectives in light of the experience to date.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.