End of mortgage supplement will hit 'low-income families'


THE GOVERNMENT’S decision to phase out mortgage interest supplement will affect low-income families, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

He said the decision had not merited a Government press release or press conference. Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton had last week used a statutory instrument and laid it before the House, he added.

“Essentially, it begins the phasing out and cutting of mortgage interest supplement, which is the most practical scheme that helps low-income families to avail of State support to keep the banks at bay and stay in their houses.

“Where is the social solidarity?”

Mr Martin asked how the Labour Party could stand over the ending of a scheme which had been of benefit to 19,000 families. He called for the statutory instrument to be repealed.

Ruling out its repeal, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the system was providing the banks with €50 million of taxpayers’ money.

“This recommendation was made as part of the Keane report,” he added. “It is an incentive for banks to sit down with their borrowers to work out solutions for people who are getting into mortgage arrears.”

Mr Martin criticised Tuesday’s “rushed press conference” on the Personal Insolvency Bill, quoting some of the negative media comment about it.

“The Taoiseach briefed the banks yesterday, but he would not brief this House or the public on the details of the Bill,” he added.

Mr Kenny said he was not interested in the speculation referred to by Mr Martin.

“Newspapers are entitled to write their reports as they see fit. That is their business.”

Mr Kenny said representatives of the Economic Management Council and the banks had a meeting on Tuesday evening. The banks had not received any details in addition to that provided when it was announced that the Government had approved the personal insolvency legislation.