Thursday, 3 October 2019

Questions (349)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

349. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the 2020 funding allocation for the dedicated mortgage arrears service has been decided; if so, if this decision has been communicated to the Citizens Information Board and the eight regional Money Advice and Budgeting Service companies operating the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40320/19]

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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 8,000 borrowers with mortgage arrears issues.

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.

Together with my colleague, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Justice , I was pleased to announce, last month,  that the Abhaile service (including DMA) is being extended for a further three years.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) receives its overall budget allocation for all services, including DMA, on an annual basis. An allocation for the DMA service has been sought for the service for 2020 as part of the Citizens Information Board overall budget requirements for 2020, however this is subject to the completion of the Department's overall estimates process. Once completed this will be communicated to CIB.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.