Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has said the government’s proposed changes to the Mortgage Interest Supplement will have a dramatic impact on those in mortgage difficulty and will worsen the mortgage crisis.  The revelation comes on the same day as the Government failed to spell out concrete plans for personal insolvency at a bizarre press conference.

Deputy Cowen said: “On the one hand Government are saying they are trying to do everything to make it easier for families who are in distress with their mortgages and on the other Minister Burton is making legislative changes to practically make it impossible to help families to apply for Mortgage Interest Supplement relief.

“Mortgage interest supplement helps stop people from falling in to arrears on their repayments.  It is focused on low income families and is a vital support.  However the Government has now tied the fate of people in need of MIS with the will of the banks to engage with them on a new payment regime.  Under this change distressed families have to wait for a period of at least 16 months before they get any relief.  It’s clear that this supplement is being cut through the back door.

“This move speaks volumes about this Government.  Rather than being up front and announcing the change, Minister Burton places a Statutory Instrument silently before the Dáil.  This strategy will not work and Fianna Fáil has already requested under the Act that the Statutory Instrument be annulled.  118,370 mortgage accounts are now either in 90-day-plus arrears or are not being repaid according to the original loan agreement.  It is clear that the Government is not doing enough.

“It is essential that mortgage holders in distress are able to secure the vital short-term support of the MIS.  My party is totally against any changes being made to the criteria for mortgage interest supplement relief.  It gives relief to over 19,000 families and the mortgage crisis is getting worse not better so this is not the time to introduce such draconian and out of touch legislative changes.”