HUMAN rights organisation FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) has hit out at the government over its lack of action in dealing with the problem of mortgage arrears.
Commentating following the release of figures by the Central Bank last week which showed that the number of family home mortgages now in arrears was 62,970, an increase of over 55%, FLAC said they hoped at least that it would finally “galvanise” the government into action.
FLAC pointed out in a statement on their website that the Central Bank figures came a year and a day after the Cooney Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears issued its report and recommendations on dealing with the problem. The figures show that when the number of renegotiated mortgages are taken into account, a total of 99,346 mortgage holders are struggling. That is 12.85% of all home mortgages in the country.
FLAC said that in the breakdown of restructured mortgages, where people have rescheduled payments to make them more manageable, only about one in seven is paying more than interest alone. Arrangements which see borrowers paying only their interest, or less than interest or having a moratorium on payment account for 54% of all the rescheduled mortgages.
In addition over 12.5% of rescheduled mortgages involve changes to the term of the mortgage.
According to FLAC’s director general Noeline Blackwell: “Inevitably therefore, with these arrangements many people are building up more long term debt.”
Noting that the Oireachtas debate on the Keane report is due to conclude next week, Ms Blackwell said: “The increase of 55% in a single year of the number of mortgages in arrears should have a galvanising effect on the Oireachtas as it concludes its discussion of the Keane report.
“Action was urgently needed when Cooney issued his report a year ago; obviously, things are much worse now, and still the long promised personal insolvency strategy and legislation has not been produced. That action should be prioritised and properly resourced.”