Council calls on new Minister to sort out mortgage scheme

Mullingar Town Council is to write to the new Minister for Social Protection, Éamon Ó Cuív, to sort out what one local councillor has termed the “anomalies” in the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme (MIS ).

Cllr Gerry Sheridan raised the issue at Tuesday’s council meeting, when he called on the newly assigned Minister to amend the eligibility criteria for the scheme. Cllr Sheridan says many people are in danger of losing their homes as they do not qualify for the scheme.

“There are a number of anomalies, for example if one of a married or cohabiting couple is working more than 29 hours a week, they are refused, so even a three-day week is deemed to be outside the scheme.

“Householders are also being penalised if it is deemd by a community welfare officer that they purchased a house they couldn’t afford. But banks were giving 100 per cent mortgages and rent-a-room allowance, and people are now being penalised,” explained Cllr Sheridan.

“These anomalies need to be corrected. The Government are to bring in a package for people in distress, but it is a long time coming, It was promised in January but no proposals have been brought forward.”

Seconding the proposal, Cllr Mick Dollard said the lack of help available to home owners is “creating huge hardship for families”. “More people are in fear of losing their house than they are of losing their job. We should be circulating this to all local authorities,” he said.

“It is heartbreaking to see people can no longer hold onto their own homes. People are saying what about helping us, who is going to bail us out?” said Cllr Glynn.

Cllr Aidan Davitt, who works as an auctioneer, said people in trouble with their mortgage should not be afraid to talk to their bank.

“We shouldn’t try to make drama or hype this up. I am dealing with this every day. People are approaching their banks and the banks don’t want houses. We don’t see a lot of repossessions in Westmeath. People should try and deal with their banks. It is not as easy as some people think to put someone out of their house.”

However, Cllr Sheridan said he was “not attempting to hype up the situation”. “I am asking that the Minister for Social Protection take this on board. I don’t see how it has taken a number of months,” he said.

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