Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath TD has described the framework agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as a significant breakthrough in the campaign to protect the interests of mortgage holders struggling under the burden of large repayments.
Deputy McGrath commented, “Fianna Fáil negotiated 3 key commitments in relation to mortgages during the course of the negotiations with Fine Gael on the formation of a minority government. These were:
– Take all necessary action to tackle high variable interest rates;
– Protect the family home and introduce additional long term solutions for mortgage arrears cases;
– Retain mortgage interest relief beyond the current end date of December 2017 on a tapered basis.
“There are at least 300,000 households who are on standard variable rate mortgages. These families have benefited least from the current low interest rate environment in Europe. Some families are paying up to €4,000 a year more in interest than the comparable European average. Fianna Fáil is determined to ensure that variable rates are brought down to realistic levels. We will be holding the Minister for Finance to account in order to ensure he is making good on the commitment to force rates down.
“The decision to extend mortgage interest relief for owner occupiers to 2020 is a major boost for hard pressed families. 310,400 mortgage holders were due to lose tax relief on their monthly repayment by the end of 2017 costing them an average of €747. The continuation of mortgage interest relief on a tapered basis will provide much needed help as they plan their family finances for the years ahead.
“Those in mortgage arrears have felt abandoned for far too long. While many restructurings have been put in place, most have not been genuine long term solutions. It’s our firm belief that repossessions should be extremely rare. However 1,600 homes were repossessed by court order or voluntary surrender in the last year.
“Building on the commitment in the Framework Agreement we will be demanding a clear hierarchy of restructuring options with a mandate for split mortgage and debt-for-equity options to be used far more often. In addition we would press for banks to apply a zero interest rate to the warehoused portion of all split mortgages offered to customers in arrears,” concluded Deputy McGrath.