Fianna Fáil TD and Chair of the Housing and Homelessness committee, John Curran has said that more measures must be taken to ensure the full protection of the 2,000 homeowners that are in arrears but in receipt of the soon to be abolished, Mortgage Interest Supplement.

The scheme was discontinued to new entrants from 1st January 2014 but those availing of this supplement prior to 1st January 2014 have been able to retain entitlement to the scheme up to January 1st of next year.

In information received by the Deputy through Parliamentary Question, the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar has confirmed that there are currently in the region of 2,000 people in receipt of MIS.

“The Fine Gael party has never concerned itself with offering adequate protection for those in mortgage arrears and particularly over the past four years. In fact, it was there decision to abolish this supplement in 2014, a move that my party strongly opposed,” explained Deputy Curran.

“The Minister has expressed little but a ‘not my problem’ attitude. His repeated reference to direct distressed home owners in arrears to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MAB) is shows how out of the loop he is in terms of people living in arrears.

“Families have been left deeply affected due to home repossession and while the work of MABS is important element of the support needed, it is nowhere near a viable alternative or long-term solution for stressed borrowers.

The Mortgage-to-Rent scheme has blatantly failed to address the mortgage arrears issue to date. There are 43,000 home mortgages in arrears for over one year, yet just 217 Mortgage-to-Rent transactions have been completed.

“Despite the Minister’s belief, the Government’s Mortgage to Rent Scheme does not have the capacity to act as an exit strategy for those in mortgage arrears.

“Rather than focus on assisting homeowners in serious mortgage arrears the government is hammering those struggling to keep their heads above the water with the abolition of this vital payment.

“I will continue to push for the supports and services required to assist homeowners in serious mortgage arrears in the Dáil over the immediate weeks ahead,” concluded Deputy Curran.