Thursday, September 06 10:25:27
The Government this morning launched an independent advice bureau to help those in trouble with their mortgages.
A key part of the new initiative is that the banks will pay for the advice service.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that the scheme is designed to create "a level playing pitch" between homeowners and the banks.
She said the government wants people to be able to devise the best possible repayment plan to help them stay in their homes.
The banks have agreed to pay for the independent advice, which will be provided by a panel of qualified accountants, and will be overseen by the Department of Social Protection.
"When people are coming to make a decision about how best to meet their mortgage and what kind of arrangements to finalise with their lender - for instance perhaps going on something like interest only, perhaps changing to one of the newer products of shared equity we're developing - they're very important decisions that a family and an individual who are in mortgage difficulty have to make. At that point we want to give people a bit of extra professional expertise to help them arrive at what's an important and difficult decision", she said on RTE's Morning Ireland.
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has welcomed the announcement and stressed that its members have the capacity and the willingness to get fully behind the initiative.
As announced today, in accordance with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, banks offering certain mortgage forbearance arrangements to distressed mortgage holders are required to advise the borrower to seek independent advice on the banks proposals, and to this end the banking sector has agreed to pay a fixed fee of E250 (plus VAT) for this advice.
The advice will be free to the borrower.
The Department has decided that advice to borrowers should be provided by practicing accountants. It is anticipated that the advice will consist of one to two consultation meetings.
Commenting, Aidan Clifford, Advisory Services Manager of ACCA Ireland said: "ACCA has played a key role in advising and assisting the Department of Finance and the Minister and her Department with this important initiative. We cannot recommend strongly enough that consumers seeking financial advice should do so with an independent advisor. The panel of accountants signed up to the initiative, are based right across the 26 counties of Ireland and the list can be found on www.keepingyourhome.ie. ACCA is fully committed to playing its part to ensure the success of the initiative."