The Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, has secured Government approval to extend the Abhaile Scheme until the end of 2023.
The scheme was set up in 2016 and is designed to support families in mortgage arrears.
To date, over 19,300 households at risk of losing their homes have been supported.
And 80% of those who avail of advice under the Abhaile Scheme are either on the road to getting a solution or already have one in place.
The decision to extend Abhaile also includes extending the work of the MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Advisors.
Announcing the extension of the Abhaile Scheme until the end of 2023, Minister Humphreys said:
“I know from my days working in the credit union, the stress placed on families who find themselves struggling to meet their mortgage repayments.
“The prospect of losing your home can be a deeply traumatic experience for the entire household.
“Given the current cost of living pressures people are under, I felt it was only right to keep the Abhaile Scheme in place until at least the end of 2023.
“This is a scheme that has a track record of helping families that fall into difficulty.
“In fact, over 19,300 households at risk of losing their homes have been supported since the scheme was established in 2016.
“Abhaile is often the first point of contact for distressed mortgage holders, and it provides successful solutions for people.
“I know that the decision to extend Abhaile until the end of 2023 will enable it to reach those who have not yet engaged and those who may be at risk.”
The Government State funded Abhaile scheme was set up in 2016 to help those in long term home mortgage arrears.
It provides assistance to people who are insolvent and in mortgage arrears on their homes to access independent expert financial and legal advice.
The fifth annual report on Abhaile was also considered by Government this week.
Funded and managed jointly by the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice, Minister Humphreys noted that Abhaile has so far provided financial advice and negotiation support to over 19,300 households at risk of losing their homes.
Home mortgage arrears have fallen sharply and continue to fall, but the cohort in long term arrears remains significant – at just over 21,600 mortgage accounts at the end of 2021.
Funding by the two Departments has already been included in their budget estimates for 2023 and amounts to approximately €8.4m, which includes €2.5m apportioned to the Dedicated Mortgage Arrears MABS service.
Minister Humphreys concluded:
“All Abhaile services are confidential and are provided without charge to the borrower.
“I would encourage anybody who is in difficulty with mortgage arrears to take the first step and call the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.
“The vital service provided by MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears advisors has also been extended until the end of 2023 by Government today.”
A strategic review of Abhaile is currently being carried out by independent consultants. This review is examining the overall operation and objectives of the Abhaile service and the effectiveness of the current structures of Abhaile. The review is expected to be completed in the coming months and its findings will be taken into account when Government considers the longer term future of this important scheme.
Note for Editors:
Abhaile, the national Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service, has been operating since July 2016. It provides independent expert financial and legal advice and assistance, free of charge, to people who are insolvent and at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears.
Abhaile is focused on identifying, and putting in place, financial solutions for over-indebted borrowers, with a priority for enabling them, wherever possible, to remain in their own homes. It is a non-statutory service, coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Protection, and its implementing bodies are the Citizens Information Board (which includes the Money Advice and Budgeting Service), the Insolvency Service of Ireland, the Legal Aid Board and the Courts Service.
Abhaile was initially established in 2016 with the intention of being a three-year response to the impact of the financial crisis on mortgage arrears in Ireland. In 2019, taking account of continuing need, the Government approved a three-year extension to Abhaile, until the end of 2022. A commitment was also made under the Programme for Government2020 to continue to resource Abhaile. The ongoing strategic review of Abhaile will inform the Government’s consideration in relation to the future provision and operation of the Abhaile scheme beyond the end of 2023. The Fifth annual Report on Abhaile was today noted by Cabinet and will now be published on the websites of the Department of Social Protection, Department of Justice and the Citizens Information Board.
Since its inception until the end of 2021, the Fifth Report notes the following:
- Abhaile has provided financial advice and negotiation support to over 19,300 households at risk of losing their homes
- its court mentors provided information and advice to nearly 18,600 unrepresented borrowers at repossession court sittings, and
- its duty solicitors provided legal advice and help at repossession court sittings to over 9,700 unrepresented borrowers
The Abhaile scheme has shown a strong level of success. The latest figures confirm that, while these borrowers are often in very difficult personal and financial situations, the following results were achieved:
- 34% of all borrowers who have been advised by Abhaile already have a solution in place or on trial
- a further 46% of the borrowers who engaged with Abhaile were still in their homes and receiving ongoing support from Abhaile to put a sustainable solution in place.
- Over 7,800 solutions were in place, making progress or on trial, for borrowers who were at risk of losing their home due to mortgage arrears and in many cases facing repossession.
- The focus of Abhaile continues to be borrowers in long term mortgage arrears, for a period of more than 720 days. 75% of borrowers issued with a voucher for financial advice and assistance from a personal insolvency practitioner were in mortgage arrears for two or more years.
- 95% of the Personal Insolvency Arrangements negotiated by PIPs under Abhaile are keeping borrowers in their homes.
- very few (about 2%) have lost their homes
Home mortgage arrears have fallen sharply and continue to fall, but the cohort in long term arrears remains significant – at just over 21,600 mortgage accounts at the end of 2021. It is hoped that extending Abhaile until the end of 2023 will enable it to continue to provide support to the owners of those homes.