Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Minister defends mortgages approach

Minister Richard Bruton has defended the Government's handling of the mortgage crisis

A senior minister has defended the Government's handling of the mortgage crisis, insisting there is no confusion in Cabinet on how to tackle the problem.

Amid differing signals over how to deal with 10.8 billion euro of lending-hit arrears, Richard Bruton said the Government would not make any decision until an expert group reported next month.

The Central Bank has revealed more than 55,000 people are behind with their mortgages by more than three months, with 800 repossessed homes now held by the banks.

"There's no confusion in Cabinet," the enterprise minister said.

"The position is crystal clear. There's a report which will be received by Government.

"At this stage there is not a menu for Government decision and until we have that we won't be making decisions."

Finance minister Michael Noonan has thrown down the gauntlet to banks, claiming they have enough money after being bailed out by the taxpayer to write-off some mortgage debt.

The Government agreed to pump another 24 billion euro into the country's banks last March in a bid to win back confidence from international money markets, taking the total bailout bill to 70 billion euro.

But Mr Noonan has been accused of fuelling uncertainty among mortgage holders over precisely what action the Government plans to take amid claims the problem is worsening.

Official figures show the courts granted repossession orders in March to June for 124 homes; more than 170 properties were seized by lenders during that time - 54 of them repossessed and 119 voluntarily surrendered or abandoned.

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