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Minister Burton announces further step on the issue of personal debt

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, today announced the establishment of an Approved Intermediary Service within the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) for the purposes of providing for Debt Relief Notices under the Personal Insolvency Service. 

A Debt Relief Notice is one of three new debt resolution mechanisms that will be available through the Insolvency Service.  It is designed for people who have very low disposable income and little assets, and will allow for the write-off of qualifying debt up to €20,000, subject to a three-year supervision period.

To obtain a Debt Relief Notice, an application must be made through an Approved Intermediary.  MABS will provide an Approved Intermediary service to process applications for Debt Relief Notices.

Minister Burton said:

High levels of personal debt are a source of huge stress for many families and individuals. The Insolvency Service is being set up to help people who are insolvent to find a way out of their plight. Debt Relief Notices, one of the three new mechanisms available under the Service, will be a crucial step in helping those who are on very low incomes and heavily indebted with no realistic chance of repaying that debt.

With the assistance of an ‘Approved Intermediary’, the Debt Relief Notice will allow for the full write-off of qualifying unsecured debt after a three-year supervision period. The Approved Intermediary Service will be delivered by trained money advisors and will be supported by the MABS helpline.

Over its history, MABS has helped very many people out of debt difficulties and is therefore very well placed to provide an Approved Intermediary Service.

The Citizens Information Board together with MABS, is working closely with the Insolvency Service to put the Approved Intermediary Service in place.  Sixteen temporary money advice staff have been recruited to facilitate the rollout of the service within MABS and the service will be available on a nationwide basis from the outset.

Minister Burton concluded:

This is a further step in the Government’s response to the enormous levels of private household debt, which is a real worry for people and a barrier to economic recovery.

Separately, a Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service has already been put in place in order to help people understand their options if they are in mortgage arrears or think they are at risk of going into arrears on their home. The Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service has three strands:

  • the website is the key online access portal for comprehensive mortgage arrears information;
  • the Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline provides general mortgage arrears information and other supports and services available. The Helpline operates Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm at  0761 74050;
  • the availability of independent advice for mortgage holders at the point where a lender presents them with a long-term proposal to restructure the mortgage on their home. A mortgage holder can select an accountant from a panel made up of members of accountancy bodies and the lender will pay for the service. Details of participating accountants are available on the website