Fianna Fail Seanad Leader and Finance Spokesperson Senator Darragh O’Brien has expressed his disappointment at the Government’s failure to improve the situation of the 1 in 5 mortgage holders currently experiencing mortgage difficulties.

The Senator commented, “This Government has failed to deliver on a number of promises to help those in mortgage difficulty. Since coming to power in March, the Government has done practically nothing to assist those struggling with mortgages and other forms of personal debt. This budget has now compounded the insult by introducing a cruel measure that will make the situation even worse.

“Yesterday Minister Howlin announced a massive cut of €22million to the Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme and an increase in the minimum contribution required. This cut will put an additional financial burden of €572 a year on households. For the 18,741 recipients of the mortgage interest supplement, the changes to MISS will drive more families deeper into debt.

“The Government’s announcement that they will introduce increased mortgage interest relief for those who bought between 2004-2008 is a welcome move for those who bought at the peak but is not the answer to the problem. We need a coherent strategy to tackle the mortgage crisis.

“In mid-October, the Government published a report entitled the Keane Report which included a range of recommendations. The report admits that the mortgage problem can’t be fixed until reformed bankruptcy legislation is introduced. Two months since it was published, the Government has failed to act on any of the recommendations. Yet again today, Minister Noonan put off giving any specific commitment on the recommendations in the report.

He concluded, “Fianna Fáil recently put forward a bill which offers practical and urgent assistance to those with personal debt and mortgage problems. It proposes setting up an independent debt settlement office with the authority to provide actual settlements. This would make a real difference for those who need help most.”