Free Aid and Advice for people with Mortgage Arrears

THis week saw the launch of a new scheme of  Free Aid and Advice for people with Mortgage Arrears

The purpose of this  State funded  Scheme is  to help people in serious arrears to find the best available solutions, with the  help of professionals with  knowledge of mortgages, insolvency, bankruptcy and repossession.
The priority is to try and find a solution that keeps a person in their
home, where possible.

MABS  (Money Advice and Budgeting Service ) will act as a single Government gateway to the new Scheme,  MABs advisers will help these borrowers, and advise them on their best options for returning to solvency and where possible for remaining in their homes. The MABS adviser will refer them, as needed, for financial advice to a Personal Insolvency Practitioner from a panel supervised by the Insolvency Service or an accountant from a panel overseen by the Department of Social Protection, and for legal aid and advice to a solicitor from a panel operated by the Legal Aid Board.

The Scheme will also provide for support in Court for an insolvent borrower subject to repossession proceedings affecting their home, under a new ‘duty solicitor’ service, also operated by the Legal Aid Board.

Free aid and advice will be provided by the panel professional under a ‘voucher’ system, and without charge to the borrower. Borrowers will
be provided  with  free  financial advice and assistance, either by a
MABS adviser or by a panel PIP or panel accountant. Where a legal issue is identified, or where the borrower is facing repossession proceedings, MABS will also be able to refer the borrower to a panel solicitor for free
legal advice and assistance.

If you want to apply for help under this Scheme , you must first be assessed as eligible. This can be done by contacting a MABS office or the MABS helpline on (0761 072000). They will carry out an eligibility assessment and refer you to the appropriate service.
You can also apply through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) . A list  of PIPs who participate in the Scheme is available here.


Watch out for the call costs on those 076 numbers. MABS and several state bodies use them – but they can end up costing a lot more than calling a normal landline number for some people – more on that here.

This State funded  Scheme is being coordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Social Protection, in co-operation with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (“MABS”), the ISI (Insolvency Service of Ireland) , the Legal Aid Board, and the Citizens Information Board


Help to Buy Scheme for First Time Buyers

The idea of financially helping first time buyers to purchase their first home has been talked about for several months now.

Some people refer to it as a First Time Buyers Grant , others are calling it the Help to Buy Scheme.
The government are still very vague about how this scheme will work and how much money it might involve. They are promising that the details of a Help to Buy scheme will be announced in Budget 2017 – which is due to be announced on October 14th 2016.

In a document called Rebuilding Ireland,  published this week  – it said “the Government is working with the Central Bank, as part of its review of its mortgage lending limits, to develop a new “Help to Buy” scheme to ensure availability of adequate, affordable mortgage finance or mortgage insurance for first-time buyers as new housing output comes onstream. Work on the design of this scheme is ongoing in the context of Budget 2017.”

Minister Coveney has said that any grants etc. would be backdated .  That should mean that anyone buying a first house between now and October will be treated the same as someone buying a house after Budget 2017.

There was a First Time Buyers Grant in operation from 1977 to 2002. When it was abolished it was worth €3,610 .
The Housing Minister at the time said the  grant “returned little benefit to consumers” and had “simply been absorbed in the increased profits of builders” .

We will keep this page updated with any news on this “first time buyers grant”  or Help to Buy Scheme as soon as we get any more information.

Maybe they will borrow some ideas from the UK ?

There is a Help to Buy scheme in the UK – and there are a few different ways it works.

a) A bonus on savings : The UK government top up savings in certain accounts by 25%. So, for every £1000 someone saves – it is topped up by £250.  (The maximum  bonus  is £3,000.

b)  A mortgage guarantee scheme  offers lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans. Because of this support, lenders can offer home buyers more high loan-to-value mortgages.

c)  Loans – the UK Government can lend up to 20% of the cost of a newly built home so that buyers can use it towards a deposit. Borrowers are not charged loan fees on the 20% loan for the first five years .

We will have to wait a few months to find out the details of the Irish Help to Buy Scheme.


IBEC and Budget 2017

Ibec represent many businesses and employers in Ireland – and they have a few suggestions about what should happen in Budget 2017 this coming October. They are especially concerned with the exit of Britain from the EU.

Ibec’s Main points for Budget 2017

They say that the  Government should not deviate from plans for a additional €1 billion worth of spending increases and tax cuts.

Personal Taxation  :    Ibec suggest that the point at which workers hit the higher tax rate should be increased by €1,000.

They also suggest that tax credits should remain for higher earners (the government were planning on cutting these)

Ibec do not agree with putting a sugar tax on soft drinks.
Ibec also want a cut in duty on alcohol and no increase on tobacco duty.

They also want Budget 2017 to significantly increase capital gains tax (CGT) relief for entrepreneurs, enhance investment schemes, and improve the treatment of share options.

Housing:   Ibec want the Government to seek a derogation from the European Commission, on social grounds, and spend €1 billion outside of the current fiscal framework on social housing in 2017.

Ibec suggest that the Government should introduce a time limited (3 year) reduced 9% rate of VAT for student housing in Budget 2017.


Ibec want increased funding for third level education and for it to be funded by tuition fees and student loans.


Ibec want Child Benefit to be means tested and the savings from those cuts to be spent on extension of the Early Childhood Care Education scheme and implementation of a formal after-school care system.

Who or What is Ibec?

Ibec say they are ” the national umbrella organisation for business and employers in Ireland” . Originally known as the Irish Business and Employers Confederation , it was formed in 1993 as a result of the conclusion of the Confederation of Irish Industry  and the Federated Union of Employers


Energia Promotional Codes and Cashback

There are often some Energia promotional codes available online that allow new customers to get  discounts on  their  gas and electricity rates.

The latest Energia promotion code, which  is still valid during July,  is “SAVEME392” . If you enter this code here on their online switching page you will get a  23%  discount off their electricity rate and 20% off their gas unit rates for a full year –   plus €50 cashback

For homes with average usage,  this deal works out as the lowest priced bundle in the country for dual fuel from a single supplier  –   See Dual Fuel Price Comparison

Note: You can only use these promotion code discounts online  on the Energia Online Switching Page.

We estimate that a typical urban home relying on gas for both heating and hot water would use about 18000 KwH of gas a year. Electricity usage in such homes would typically be about 3500 Kwh a year.

If you switch both fuels online to Energia and  use this  promotional code – it would result in a total cost of  €1698 in the first year for someone using the amounts of fuel given above. (including the €50 cashback). This is the lowest price for dual fuel from a single supplier.

Electric Ireland’s best dual fuel deal works out at €1752 over 12 months – this includes their €120 cashback.

Bord Gais Energy’s bundle would cost  €1769 in the first year. (including their €100 cashback offer) 

The SSE Airtricity  dual fuel deal would work out at €1787 in year one. (With their €50 cashback included )

See  our Dual Fuel Price Comparison for some more figures.

Energia also have a discount code for Electricity Only customers  :  The promotion code “CHEAP260”  gets you a  26% discount on their standard rates. The €50 cashback also applies to Electricity only customers. This is currently the best offer in the country for average electricity usage.

Figures checked July 10th 2016

Energia Online Switching Page

Electricity Prices Compared 

Gas Price Comparison

More Discount Codes Here

Energia only began offering gas and electricity to residential customers in Ireland in January 2014 and they already supply electricity to about 65,000 customers and gas to around 35,000 .

The main thing to realise is – that if you are stuck on old ESB/Bord Gais standard rates you can save significant amounts by changing your supplier or even just by switching to paying by Direct Debit and getting eBills.