Further Executive help for those under threat of repossession
Justice Minister David Ford has approved funding to an organisation supporting homeowners and tenants threatened with repossession.
~ Monday, 9 July 2012
The Minister has approved a £60,000 grant to the Housing Rights Service to provide specialist advice and representation to people facing the imminent threat of repossession on the day of the court hearing.
The development, part of the Minister’s commitment to ensure Access to Justice to those who need it, represents a new approach to publicly funded legal services.
This follows an announcement in August 2011 from Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland of funding of over £500,000 for the Mortgage Debt Advice Service and highlights the commitment from the Northern Ireland Executive to help homeowners facing repossession.
David Ford said: “As pressure on public finances continues to grow, it is important to make the best and most effective use of the money available.
“By awarding this grant to the Housing Rights Service – an organisation that has a track record in helping those faced with the threat of repossession – more people can use the services they provide.”
The funding will provide assistance across all of Northern Ireland. It will provide for two specialists to be employed to give advice and support in all High Court proceedings in respect of mortgage repossessions where people face losing their home and will see the scheme extended to all eviction proceedings in the County Court throughout Northern Ireland.
David Ford said: “By looking at how publicly funded legal services are provided, I have been able to provide this support and assistance so that families who find themselves in financial difficulties in these challenging circumstances can receive sound advice at court.
“Looking at the provision of legal assistance in civil proceeding was a recommendation of the Access to Justice Review I commissioned and which was published last year.
“I believe the service provided by Housing Right Service will be hugely important in supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said; “Last August I announced funding of over £500,000 for the Mortgage Debt Advice Service to help prevent people in Northern Ireland losing their homes as a consequence of housing related debt. As the economic downturn tightens its grip, advice for those facing mortgage difficulties has become increasingly sought after and this additional support by the Department of Justice will complement the work of my Department and demonstrates the real value of joined up government. However, repossession should always be the last resort and I would urge anyone experiencing mortgage difficulties to access the services available through the Mortgage Debt Advice Service as prevention is always better than cure.”
He said: “I welcome Minister Ford’s decision to make funding available for this very important service and I am confident that by aligning our resources we can make a real difference to many families facing the trauma of mortgage debt”
Notes to editors:
- The Housing Rights Service is one of the leading independent specialist organisations promoting housing rights in Northern Ireland. Their core services are funded by the housing division within the Department for Social Development
- The primary aim of this funding will be to provide specialist advice and representation to people facing the imminent threat of repossession on the day of the court hearing.
- The grant will be administered by the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission.
- In 2011 the number of mortgage applications received by the Chancery Division of the High Court was 3,588. Also during this period a total of 1,775 possession orders were made.
- In 2010 across all county court divisions in Northern Ireland a total of 933 applications in ejectment proceedings were received. Also in 2010 a total of 723 cases were disposed of with 94% of these disposed of in court.
- The Mortgage Debt Advice Service Helpline number is 0300 323 0310
- Media enquires should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.