More than 11,600 households seek debt advice from State body

Majority who contact Abhaile about debts and mortgage arrears are in employment

Abhaile is the State’s mortgage arrears and debt resolution service

Abhaile is the State’s mortgage arrears and debt resolution service

 

More than 11,600 borrowers received advice and support from Abhaile, the State’s mortgage arrears and debt resolution service over a two-year period, according to a recent report.

The Department of Justice and Equality, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, who co-ordinate the scheme, published annual reports reviewing the take up and outcomes of Abhaile between July 2016 and June 2018.

Over that time, 11,695 borrowers received financial advice and negotiation support either from a personal insolvency practitioner (5,154 households) or a dedicated mortgage arrears adviser (4,960 households).

As of July 2018, around 30 per cent of the borrowers who had engaged with Abhaile had a solution in place or on trial.

A further 53 per cent of borrowers who had engaged with the scheme (6,148) were still in their homes and receiving support from a financial adviser to get reach a solution.

Data collected on the profile of borrowers who received advice and assistance showed the majority were either in paid employment (44 per cent) or self-employed (9 per cent).

The report said other borrowers had a “diverse range of primary income sources”, including Job Seekers’ Allowance or Benefit (17 per cent) and Disability Allowance (6 per cent). The majority of the borrowers (75 per cent) were in the 41-65 age bracket, followed by the 19-40 group (20 per cent) and the over 65s (five per cent).

The largest proportion of those supported by Abhaile were married (39 per cent), while a quarter were separated. A total of 1,265 children were living in households supported by the scheme at the end of June 2018.

The report said 16 per cent of borrowers are not engaging after receiving financial advice under Abhaile. It said information on outcomes is not available for borrowers who have disengaged.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said Abhaile is delivering “real, successful solutions” for borrowers struggling to pay their mortgage arrears.

“The number of home mortgage accounts in arrears has now fallen to less than half its late-2013 peak. I am particularly pleased to see that Abhaile is delivering results even for borrowers in the more challenging levels of arrears, who are those most at risk,” he said.

“Abhaile is undoubtedly making an important contribution to the drop in arrears for this worst-affected category and is helping those who fell into arrears due to loss of earnings, illness or family separation.”

The report said the Abhaile Steering Board is engaging in a “strategic review” of Abhaile’s “operation, objectives and future”.

“It is intended that the outcome of this strategic review and recommendations will be submitted to Government in early 2019,” it said.