THE government will make an announcement on the mortgage crisis before Christmas, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has revealed.
While the Minister did not give an exact date for the announcement, he hinted that it was mostly likely to be after the forthcoming Budget on December 6th.
The impending announcement on the crisis and the government’s response to the Keane Report was revealed following questions in the Dáil on Tuesday from Deputies Timmy Dooley and Michael McGrath.
Asked by Deputy McGrath when an announcement on the mortgage crisis was expected, Minister Noonan said: “Work is proceeding and the lack of an announcement has not inhibited the work. I am planning to make an announcement before Christmas but whether that is before or after the budget I cannot say.
“It is more likely to be in those weeks between the budget and the Christmas recess.”
Asked where the government currently stood in relation to the matter, the Minister said: “As indicated previously, the Government is acutely aware of the increasing financial stress that some households are facing arising from difficulty in meeting their mortgage commitments.
“It was for this reason that the Government requested an inter-departmental group to consider further necessary actions to alleviate the increasing problem of mortgage over-indebtedness.
“As the Deputy is aware, the group’s report has now been published and it is still the subject of a detailed and very worthwhile debate in this House.
“However, progress has already been made in response to acting on a number of the recommendations of the inter-departmental report and work has commenced across a number of Departments and agencies. These will build on the measures already in place to assist mortgage holders such as the MARP process and the revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears.
“The inter-departmental report identified reform of personal insolvency law as a critical measure to tackle mortgage distress and the Minister for Justice and Equality has now undertaken extensive work on the development of a Bill to bring forward the necessary legislative provisions in order to modernise the law in this regard. This is being advanced as a priority matter.
“The Minister for housing and planning has also commenced work on the implementation of two mortgage-to-rent schemes in line with the report’s recommendations. The Minister has indicated that the schemes will operate on a pilot basis initially and that work is now well advanced with a lender and an approved housing body to make the pilot schemes operational as soon as possible.
“My own Department is undertaking a process of direct engagement with banks on the development of voluntary approaches by mortgage lenders and, in addition, the Central Bank has also asked mortgage lenders to produce detailed mortgage arrears resolution strategies and implementation plans as a matter of urgency for submission by the end of November.
“This House is continuing its debate on the inter-departmental report and the Government has stated that it will consider and take account of the many contributions made, both inside and outside the House, to this debate in its ongoing efforts to address the problem of mortgage difficulty.
“Once the Dáil debate has concluded I will, following assessment of the points raised, be bringing proposals to Government on next steps including an implementation mechanism. This will enable the recommendations of the inter-departmental report to be progressed in a co-ordinated fashion in order to provide effective and meaningful solutions for those borrowers that are facing difficulties in meeting their mortgage commitments.”