Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has criticised the Government for not using this year’s budget to help those in mortgage arrears.

He commented, “This budget has failed to introduce a single measure to help those in mortgage arrears or caught in the negative equity trap. Instead, struggling homeowners are to be hit with a punitive property tax at a time when they can least afford it.

“While the Government likes to pretend that negative equity isn’t an issue so long as a homeowner is servicing their mortgage, we don’t share this view and see it as a huge millstone around people’s necks, particularly for those in their 30s and 40s who want to move home because of a growing family or to take up employment in another area.  For those who do choose to move out and rent their home, they face a range of additional costs as a result of this.

“In yesterday’s budget there wasn’t a single measure brought forward to help those in arrears or caught in negative equity. All that has been introduced is the option of deferring payment of the property tax for those in extreme cases where they are barely able to service even the interest payments on their mortgage.

“This Government has failed miserably to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis since coming to office and is only going to push people further into arrears with the imposition of the property tax.

“In our budget submission, A Fairer Way to Recovery, we proposed a range of measures in our pre-budget submission to help those in negative equity, including legislation to allow people to retain their tracker mortgages and a revision of the rules in relation to the definition of principal private residence.”