Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described today’s reports of a new approach on the part of permanent tsb to dealing with property related debts as indicative of a disjointed approach to the problem of mortgage arrears on the part of Irish banks.

According to reports this morning ptsb is offering new proposals to help home owners to deal with debts on properties currently in arrears. Among the options being trialled is an assisted voluntary sale, where home owners who still owe money after selling their home, will be allowed by the bank to pay off a fixed amount over a specified period of time depending on personal circumstances.

The latest move follows announcements in recent months by AIB about a process which could lead to mortgage write-down in certain circumstances and a previous announcement from ptsb in March which was described at the time as “groundbreaking”.

Deputy McGrath stated, ‘Each of the initiatives would appear to have merit in their own right and certainly achieve a degree of publicity for the bank at the time of their announcement but to date the cumulative impact of these proposals has been of limited value. The Department of Finance’s own figures show that progress on putting long term solutions in place remains very slow. It is completely unacceptable that three quarters of those in arrears still do not have a long term restructuring agreement in place.

‘The common theme running through the various proposals appears to be a desire on the part of the banks to keep people out of the personal insolvency regime. It is my contention that a proposal from an individual bank should complement rather than circumvent a legislative underpinning to how the problem of personal and mortgage debt is dealt with. It is vital that we have consistency across institutions. This is necessary to ensure that the most socially and economically fair outcomes are achieved. The Minister for Finance continues to allow the banks to dictate the pace of dealing with the problem. A few carefully crafted publicity seeking announcements on the part of the banks is no substitute for Government action which will benefit all citizens in arrears equally.’