· New survey shows two-thirds of homeowners in mortgage arrears are unaware of the help available
 
· Nationwide radio, poster & online info campaign will further promote this highly effective service

 

A new national information campaign to reach out to homeowners in mortgage arrears has gone live, designed to further raise awareness of the highly effective Abhaile advice service.
 
To date some 4,800 individual vouchers have been provided under Abhaile to provide free financial or legal advice and assistance on home mortgage arrears. This new information campaign wants to ensure that everyone across Ireland who needs assistance and may be at risk of losing their home is aware that free advice and support is available through MABS.
 
The information campaign was launched today in the Citizens Information Board by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar. It features a mix of radio, poster and online adverts.
 
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, said: 
 
‘Today’s survey underlines a very real need. The Government is committed to ensuring that homeowners who are struggling with mortgage arrears, and are at risk of losing their homes, can access expert help and advice. That advice can relieve the stress and isolation experienced by people who are in financial distress, break financial problems down to manageable solutions, and most importantly, help people return to solvency. 
 
Under the new Abhaile service, homeowners can now access free advice and help from a specialist debt adviser, a personal insolvency practitioner, or a solicitor, aimed at identifying the best long-term solution for them and getting it into place. 
 
Today’s national information campaign is specially designed to reach those homeowners in serious mortgage arrears who are struggling alone, and to ensure that they know what help is available and are encouraged to avail of it. I would urge anyone worried about mortgage arrears on their home to contact MABS who are the Government gateway to the range of supports available.’ 
 
Minister Varadkar said:

'Abhaile is already proving to be one of the most effective ways to help people who are in mortgage arrears and at risk of losing their home. Since its launch last July, some 4,800 vouchers have already been provided which gives people access to expert financial or legal advice and assistance, through the Money Advice & Budgeting Service, which is funded by my Department.  

 
There are few things in life more distressing than the possibility of seeing your family home repossessed. This is clearly borne out in the survey which reveals the impact it can have on the lives of individuals and their families. But too many of these same families are not aware of the expert financial and legal advice available through Abhaile. The aim of this campaign is to make sure that this valuable service is promoted to everyone who can benefit. I want people to know that the Government is here to help.'
 
Over 4,800 vouchers have already been provided under Abhaile for free financial or legal advice and assistance on home mortgage arrears, since 22 July 2016. Free help and support is also provided to unrepresented borrowers at all Circuit Court repossession court lists, under innovative Abhaile court mentor and duty solicitor services.  
 
ENDS
 
Notes to Editors 
 
A recent survey of 1,000 respondents across Ireland, carried out for Abhaile, indicates that: 
· 33% of those who had experienced being in mortgage arrears would not consult family or friends about their situation
· 12% of Irish adults know of a friend or family member in mortgage arrears
· Nearly 2/3 of those in mortgage arrears admit to experiencing feelings of fear and depression 
· 64% of respondents were not aware of any free advisory services available to homeowners in mortgage arrears. 
 
The Abhaile service to support householders in mortgage arrears was established  jointly by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., and by the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar T.D. It is expected to cost €15 million euro over 3 years. 
 
The service began operation in July 2016 and was launched last October. It is coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Social Protection. The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the Insolvency Service of Ireland, the Legal Aid Board and the Citizens’ Information Board work together to provide this important new service. 
 
Under the Abhaile service, a borrower in serious mortgage arrears who is at risk of losing their home can access the following free services via MABS: 
· Financial analysis, advice and negotiation help from a specialist MABS adviser or from a personal insolvency practitioner, 
· A consultation and legal advice from a solicitor on putting solutions in place, 
· Assistance at court from a ‘duty solicitor’, from a panel rostered by the Legal Aid Board to attend Circuit Court repossession lists across the country, and from a ‘court mentor’ provided by MABS,
· Legal aid for the new Court review under s. 115A Personal Insolvency Acts, where a borrower’s proposal for a Personal Insolvency Arrangement including mortgage arrears on their home is refused by their creditors.