Belfast Telegraph

Noonan: I'll tackle mortgage crisis

The Government has vowed to tackle the spiralling mortgage crisis as soon as it gets a report on the issue.

Finance minister Michael Noonan dismissed speculation there would be no action on rising home loan arrears until the Budget in December.

Proposals from a group of Government officials and banking representatives are on course to be handed to the coalition in three weeks' time, he said.

Mr Noonan said he could not pre-empt that report, but insisted the Government would act urgently on it. He said: "When the Government gets its head around this report we will be taking policy decisions."

But he again dismissed any prospect of a wide-ranging debt forgiveness scheme - or partial write-off of mortgage debt for anybody not making repayments. Mr Noonan said that could "open the floodgates" for people who did not really need the help but instead saw such a scheme as an opportunity.

"Banks have been capitalised to cover bad debts for years, but that's not to say they have a pool of money to throw around in an ad hoc measure," he said.

Mr Noonan said there had to be a distinction made between those who could not pay and those who would not pay. While there were people in dreadful circumstances, a wide ranging debt forgiveness scheme was neither realistic nor possible, he added.

The group, examining possible solutions to the mortgage debt problem, is expected to conclude its recommendations at the end of the month, which will then be passed to the Department of Finance.

About a week later, the report will be assessed by the Government's economic management council before going before the Cabinet for a decision on what action to take.

Earlier this week, the Central Bank revealed more than 55,000 people were behind with their mortgages by more than three months - more than 7% of all mortgages. Around 800 repossessed homes are now held by financial institutions.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph