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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 309 - 326
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Housing Finance Agency Funding
 Header Item Living City Initiative
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Cost
 Header Item Insurance Compensation Fund Drawdown
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item Home Renovation Incentive Scheme
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Eligibility
 Header Item EU Budget Contribution
 Header Item Banking Sector Staff
 Header Item Mortgage Arrears Rate
 Header Item Budget Consultation Process

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 856 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 112 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 309 - 326

Pension Provisions

 309. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his plans to reduce the amount of tax on a particular pension scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41489/14]

 310. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views regarding the unintended consequences to a particular pension scheme and its members (details supplied); and his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41490/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 309 and 310 together.

While it is not particularly clear from the details supplied with the question, I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the changes to the maximum allowable pension fund at retirement for tax purposes (known as the Standard Fund Threshold or SFT) which I introduced in Budget 2014 and Finance (No 2) Act 2013 and which came into law in December 2013.

The primary purpose of the changes made to the SFT regime last year is to further restrict the capacity of higher earners to fund or accrue large pensions through tax-subsidised sources. I have no plans to undo those changes.  It is important to emphasize, however, that the SFT regime and the changes made to it last year do not impact on the vast majority of individuals in pension saving arrangements.

The SFT regime addresses the problem of pension overfunding and excessive pension accrual by dealing with it at the point of pension drawdown in retirement rather than by applying restrictions to pension savings or accrual upfront. The regime achieves this by imposing a significant tax charge on the value of retirement benefits above set limits when they are drawn down. In this way it acts to discourage the building up of large pension funds in the first place or unwinds the tax advantage of such overfunding by clawing back, through the significant tax charge, the tax relief granted.

The main changes made by Budget 2014 and Finance (No 2) Act 2013 can be summarised as follows:

- Firstly, the absolute capital value of the SFT was reduced, with effect from 1 January 2014, from €2.3m to €2m. 

- Secondly, the valuation factor to be used for establishing the capital value of defined benefit (DB) pension rights at the point of retirement, where this takes place after 1 January 2014, has been changed from a standard valuation factor of 20 to a range of higher age related valuation factors that will vary with the individual's age at the point at which the pension rights are drawn down.

- Lastly, in calculating the capital value of a DB pension at the point of retirement, transitional arrangements provide for a split calculation where part of the pension had already been accrued at 1 January 2014 so that the part accrued up to that date will be valued at a factor of 20 and the part accrued after that date valued at the appropriate higher age-related valuation factor.

As occurred on the occasion of the introduction of the SFT regime in 2005, and again when the value of the SFT limit was reduced to €2.3m in 2010, the legislation contained in Finance (No. 2) Act 2013 provides for an individual who has pension rights on 1 January 2014 in excess of the new lower SFT limit of €2m, to claim a Personal Fund Threshold (PFT) from Revenue in order to protect or grandfather the value of those rights on that date. This is subject to a maximum PFT of €2.3m, and individuals with PFTs from 2005 or 2010 retain those PFTs.

The changes and grandfathering arrangements outlined above apply, as appropriate, to DB and defined contribution (DC) pension arrangements in both the private and public sectors.

Tax Code

 311. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the measures in budget 2015 that will help the so-called squeezed middle; his plans for future budgets in helping the squeezed middle; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41507/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan A fair, efficient and competitive income tax system is essential for economic growth and job creation. I have long said that the burden of the income tax system in Ireland is too high and that I would seek to reduce it as soon as it was prudent to do so. The measures announced in the Budget are the first stage of a reform plan, to be undertaken over a number of years, to address this issue, particularly for middle-income earners who have borne the greater share of the cost of the economic downturn.

In Budget 2015 I have reduced the top rate of income tax from 41% to 40%.  I have also extended the standard rate band on which income tax is chargeable at the lower 20% rate by €1,000. These measures ensure that all those currently earning in excess of €32,800 per annum will benefit from the tax changes in the Budget.

In addition I have reduced the two lower rates at which USC is payable from 2% and 4% to 1.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Furthermore, I have also increased the threshold before which the 7% rate of USC becomes payable to €17,576, so that those on the minimum wage will now only be liable to a maximum 3.5% rate of USC.

The Budget also provides for the retention of the exemption from the top rates of USC for medical card holders with incomes that do not exceed €60,000. These individuals will now only be liable to pay a USC rate of 3.5%, down from 4%. This reduced rate will also apply to the over 70s, with incomes that do not exceed €60,000, again down from 4%.

Ireland already has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the developed world. To preserve that progressivity, the Budget also contains USC measures which have the effect of limiting the maximum benefit from this package of tax measures to approximately €14 per week for any individual taxpayer, which means that those with very high incomes will only benefit to the same extent, as those with more modest incomes.

The changes announced in the Budget will ensure that all those currently paying income tax and/or USC will see a reduction in their tax bill in 2015. I propose to continue this reform in future Budgets, subject to the required economic growth and the consequent fiscal space available to the Government.

Tax Data

 312. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to Parliamentary Question No. 55 of 16 July 2014, if figures are available on the number of people who applied to register under the relevant contracts tax system in the years 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014 who were refused to register as such; the reasons for such refusals; and if the Revenue Commissioners investigates the age profile, former taxation status and other circumstances of people applying to be registered as RCT workers to determine if they rightly qualify as self-employed.  [41524/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of active registrations for Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) and the number of contract notifications entered on the eRCT system for the years set out as follows.

YearActive RCT RegistrationsContract Notifications
201258,855208,865
201362,443263,994
2014 (to 19/10/2014)63,259253,969


   I am also informed that every contractor who enters into a contract with a subcontractor in relation to construction, forestry or meat processing operations is obliged to register as a principal contractor for RCT. Subcontractors, who are not already registered for RCT, will be automatically registered for RCT on foot of a contract notification from a principal contractor.  On submission of this contract information by the principal contractor, the subcontractor is immediately issued with a 'Contract Confirmation' letter, with full details of the nature of the engagement between the principal and the subcontractor, and the subcontractor is advised that he/she is obliged by law to contact Revenue if any of the details of the engagement are materially incorrect. It is at this point that workers with concerns should respond to Revenue and if the Deputy has any information in this regard, he should encourage them to do so.

  Failing any objection to the nature of the engagement the Principal is issued with a deduction rate notification, i.e. RCT will be deducted at 0%, 20% or 35%, as appropriate, from any payments made under the contract. Registering for RCT is a necessary pre-requisite to enable a principal or subcontractor to comply with their RCT obligations and, consequently, refusing to register a principal or subcontractor does not arise.

  On the eRCT system, before notifying a contract to Revenue, a principal contractor must already have satisfied themselves that the contract being entered into with the sub-contractor is not a 'contract of service' that is one in which the relationship between the principal and the sub-contractor is in the nature of an employer/employee.  In addition, where the contract is a labour only contract, the principal contractor is required to supply additional information regarding the contract (similar to the information that a principal had previously been required to consider on the Form RCT1).      

  Decisions about employed or self-employed status of workers have to be made on the facts and the 'Code of Practice for Employment or Self-Employment Status of Individuals' is designed to assist both parties to a contract to determine if that contract is, by its nature, either:

  -A 'contract of services',  that is, an employer employee arrangement, in which case the PAYE system applies to payments made, or

  -A 'contract for services' that is, not an employer employee arrangement, in which case the eRCT system applies.

  The 'Code of Practice for Employment or Self-Employment Status of Individuals' is not a Revenue Code, but rather was compiled collaboratively by the following bodies, which are all members of the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group - ICTU, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, NERA, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Finance, the SFA, IBEC, CIF and Revenue.

  The primary responsibility in relation to employment rights rest with NERA, in relation to PRSI entitlements with the Department of Social Protection and the proper implementation of the tax code with Revenue. These agencies work separately and also together in joint investigation units.

  I am informed that the Revenue Commissioners are better placed since the introduction of the eRCT system to monitor RCT activity in realtime, to identify risks and to intervene early in cases with the highest risk of evasion. However this activity can be enhanced by the active engagement by workers when they receive a contract confirmation letter.

Housing Finance Agency Funding

 313. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if loans from the Housing Finance Agency to voluntary sector housing associations are included in the calculation of the State's debt to GDP ratio. [41549/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) is classified within general government all of its debts are included in the compilation of general government debt. Their debt would include any borrowing undertaken to fund lending activities to housing or other bodies. Loans from the HFA to voluntary sector housing associations are classified as assets on the balance sheet of the HFA and therefore do not impact the overall debt figure.

Living City Initiative

 314. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 is eligible for the living city initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41570/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Officials from my Department have held preliminary discussions with the relevant local authorities to identify the areas of the six cities, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford, which might fall within the scope of the scheme. Each of the local authorities have submitted proposals on the areas which they believe should be included. 

My officials have also been in contact with the EU Commission on the application for State Aid approval for the Initiative and this process is expected to be concluded shortly. I will not be announcing the areas to be designated until this approval has been received and the initiative is to be commenced. 

I would expect that I will be in a position to make an announcement in the near future. It is important to note that I do not see this as a wide-spread Initiative, as it is targeted at those areas which are most in need of attention.

It will not be possible to claim retrospectively for work that was carried out before the commencement of the scheme.

Other incentives which are available include the Home Renovation Incentive which came into operation on 25 October 2013 and will run until 31 December 2015. It provides for tax relief for homeowners by way of a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure incurred on repair, renovation or improvement work carried out on a principal private residence.  In the recent Budget I announced that the incentive will also be available from 15 October 2014 to rental properties whose owners are subject to income tax.

  Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 276.

Tax Reliefs Cost

 316. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons who availed of the tax credit in respect of service charges in each year in which it applied; the annual cost during the years in which it applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41583/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Effective from 1 January 2012 tax relief is no longer available for service charges paid. The abolition of this relief was announced in Budget 2010.

  This relief was introduced from 1996/7 onwards and I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the annual cost and number availing of tax relief on service charges up to 2012 are contained in Revenue's Statistical Reports, available on the Commissioners' website at
http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/statistical-reports.html, in the "Income Tax" chapter of each year (Table IT6).

Insurance Compensation Fund Drawdown

 317. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the costs incurred to date by the administrators of a company (details supplied) for the rescuing of the company; the likely final cost; when the administration process will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41584/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In 2010 Joint Administrators were appointed by the High Court at the request of the Central Bank of Ireland because of concerns about the solvency position of Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL).  The ICF has been used in accordance with the legislation to allow the QIL Administrators to meet their financial obligations as they arise.  High Court approval is required to be obtained by QIL Administrators each time before any funds can be withdrawn from the ICF. To date, a total of €1,158m has been drawn down from the Insurance Compensation Fund by the Joint Administrators.

The Joint Administrators, when presenting their 10th report to the High Court in July 2012, indicated that the potential call on the ICF could be up to €1.65bn. The Joint Administrators pointed out in their report that if they were to remove most of the accounting adjustments and use a "best estimate" calculation, then the losses at the former company and therefore the call on the fund is likely to be in the range of €1.1bn to €1.3bn rather than the €1.65bn for which they have provided. The latest update from the Joint Administrators to officials from my Department indicates that they are increasingly confident that the total drawdown will be in that lower range.

The Joint Administrators inform me that they continue to target the end of 2016 for the completion of the administration although this relies on the receipt of a satisfactory bid from the current portfolio bid process.

The total fees, inclusive of VAT charged by Grant Thornton to QIL up to the end of June 2014 is €19,319,000.

Tax Data

 318. Deputy Tom Barry Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the changes in budget 2015 to the rate of stamp duty; the criteria for exemption from stamp duty; and the rates that apply if the consanguinity relief, which halves the stamp duty on sales of non-residential property to family members, has been extended in budget 2015.  [41602/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan There was no change in Budget 2015 in relation to the rate of stamp duty. The rate of stamp duty on non-residential property is currently 2%. Where consanguinity relief applies the rate of duty is one-half of this amount, i.e. 1%.  Consanguinity relief was due to expire from the end of  2014. However, in Budget 2015, I announced the continuation of this relief for instruments executed prior to 1 January 2018, but only in respect of  transfers or conveyances of land where the transferor has not attained the age of 66 years and the transferee

(a) spends  not less than 50% of his or her normal working time farming the land on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits from the land and

(b) farms the land for a period of not less than 5 years.

The criteria for a variety of stamp duty exemptions differ depending on the particular exemption in question. The continuation of consanguinity relief, but on a more restricted basis, was one of the measures proposed by the Agri-taxation Review Report for the stated purpose of facilitating access to land by new entrants and providing support for young farmers.

Home Renovation Incentive Scheme

 319. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on increasing the amount of home renovation incentive available to a house owner where a house is being renovated and made available to a local authority as rental accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41612/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As the Deputy is aware, the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) came into operation on 25 October 2013 and will run until 31 December 2015.  The incentive provides tax relief for homeowners by way of a tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure incurred on repair, renovation or improvement work carried out on a principal private residence.  Qualifying expenditure is expenditure subject to the 13.5% VAT rate.  The work must cost a minimum of €5,000 (inclusive of VAT) which would attract a credit of €595.  Where the cost of the work exceeds €30,000 (exclusive of VAT) a maximum credit of €4,050 will apply. The credit is payable over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out.  

The take-up of the HRI has been very successful to date, with just under 9,300 homes registered on the online system, representing almost €190 million worth of works involving some 3,000 contractors. It is clear that the incentive is generating employment in the tax compliant construction sector and increasing sales in building supplies, hardware and related businesses.

In the context of Budget 2015, I did consider increasing the amount of relief provided, but I decided that it would be better to extend the HRI to the owners of rental properties who are liable to income tax. This will support legitimate operators in the rental and construction sectors and help to upgrade the quality of private rental stock, particularly at the lower end. This change has taken effect since Budget night and will run until the end of 2015.

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

 320. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will confirm the details of the tax relief announced in the budget to those providing their own water and wastewater treatment through a private well and waste water treatment unit respectively; the records a claimant will need to keep of expenditure on the well and wastewater treatment unit so that they will be in a position to verify their expenditure to the Revenue Commissioners regarding tax relief claimed; in view of the fact that expenditure on electricity forms a substantial proportion of expenditure as it is necessary to power pumps in the well and treatment unit, the way this cost can be accounted for the Revenue Commissioners taking into account the fact that the bills received from the utility provider are global in nature and do not provide a detailed breakdown of the power used be each piece of equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41618/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan A  number of measures were announced on Budget day to improve the overall affordability of water charges. The objective of these supports is to assist households in the country who pay their Water bills.

  Following on from the announcement on Budget day, officials from my Department are working closely with their colleagues in the other relevant Departments and Agencies, in the development of the processes that will be employed to deliver the relief.

  As I stated on Budget day and subsequently, we will design the measure as broadly and efficiently as possible, to ensure that the relief reaches all households who pay their charges.

  Individuals who have private wells and water treatment units will not be liable to the new water charges and therefore will not be eligible for the tax relief.

EU Budget Contribution

 321. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the way the reported recalculation of EU member states' contributions will affect Ireland's contribution; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41640/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Ireland's contribution to the EU Budget is an obligation of EU membership and is a charge on the Central Fund under national legislation. The contribution formula for the EU Budget is comprised of Traditional Own Resources (customs duties), a VAT-based payment and a residual balancing component paid in accordance with each Member State's (MS) share of EU Gross National Income (GNI).

  Annually, a technical rebalancing exercise is carried out whereby updated MS GNI and VAT data is used to retrospectively adjust preceding years' budget contributions. These balancing payments are called up for automatic payment, in accordance with the relevant legislation, on 1st December every year.

  In parallel with this, the Commission has proposed Draft Amending Budget 6 (DAB 6) which includes a technical redistribution of these balancing payments across MS. The net impact of these two exercises is an estimated additional contribution of €6.5m for Ireland. It should be noted that, whereas the payment under the technical balancing exercise is automatic, DAB 6 must be agreed by both Council (QMV) and Parliament.

  Separately, DAB 6 also updates the forecast for MS customs duties in 2014 to reflect current revenue developments. For Ireland, this involves a separate increase of €6m in our customs duties payment.

Banking Sector Staff

 322. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of staff directly employed by AIB and the number employed through outsourcing as of October 2014; and these same figures at the time of the State takeover of the bank. [41727/14]

 323. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the steps he will take to ensure that the outsourcing of staff at any bank in which the State has shares will be done in a way that respects the pay, conditions and trade union recognition standards of the staff involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41728/14]

 324. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of staff directly employed by all State owned or State part owned banks and the number employed through outsourcing as of October 2014, and these same figures at the time of the State takeover of the banks. [41729/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 to 324, inclusive, together.

  As the Deputy will be aware under the Relationship Frameworks the State does not intervene in the day to day operations of the banks or their management decisions regarding commercial matters. Any staff who transfer under outsourcing arrangements transfer under the TUPE regulations.

  With regard to the number of staff employed, AIB and PSTB have provided me with the following information:

  AIB

  AIB's disclosures in relation to employee numbers are made twice yearly in its Annual and Half-Yearly Reports. In its 2014 Half-Yearly Financial Report the bank stated that it had 11,385 employees as at 30 June 2014. AIB manages outsourcing within its commercial business requirements and enters into arrangements with service providers to deliver a range of services not conducted by the bank. It is up to each service provider to manage the number of staff required to fulfil the contract it enters into with AIB. AIB does not disclose details of individual or collective contracts on confidentiality grounds.

  AIB continues to manage its cost base and is on track to reduce operating costs by €350m in 2014 relative to 2012 levels.

  PTSB

  Staff numbers are included in the Annual and Half-Yearly reports published by the bank. PTSB has also confirmed that it has a small number of outsourcing arrangements with c.70 outsourced staff.

  In the case of Bank of Ireland disclosures in relation to employees are made twice yearly in its Annual and Interim Reports. In its 2014 Interim report the bank stated that it had 11,386 employees as at 30 June 2014. The bank does not provide staff numbers in relation to outsourcing arrangements.

Mortgage Arrears Rate

 325. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his plans to tackle the mortgage crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35206/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have informed this House previously that the Government has developed a comprehensive cross-Departmental strategy in response to the mortgage arrears issue in line with the main recommendations of the 2011 Keane Report. The implementation of this strategy is overseen at Government level by the Construction 2020, Housing, Planning and Mortgage Arrears sub-committee, which is chaired by the Taoiseach, and at official level by a mortgage arrears steering group which is chaired by the Department of Finance.

 A number of key measures have been advanced in this regard, including;

1. An intensification by the Central Bank of its engagement with mortgage lenders to require them, under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets (MART) process, to propose and conclude sustainable and durable alternative arrangements with their customers in mortgage arrears. Targets have been set to the end of 2014 and by this date the relevant banks covered by the MART process will be required to have proposed sustainable solutions to 85% of mortgages which are more than 90 days in arrears and to have concluded solutions with 45% of such mortgages;

2. Significant reforms to personal insolvency and the establishment of the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), to provide more accessible and flexible statutory frameworks for people with unsustainable personal and mortgage debt to address their position;

3. The launch last month of the 'Back on Track' Information Campaign for People in debt by ISI, which, among other things, provides for the elimination of application fees to encourage a greater take-up of ISI services by people in debt;

4. Updating the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears to provide additional safeguards to cooperating borrowers, while also promoting and encouraging efforts by both lenders and borrowers to meaningfully address mortgage arrears or pre-arrears. Monitoring compliance with CCMA continues to be central to the Central Bank's work programme and is also an enforcement priority for the Bank.  The Central Bank will be commencing on site inspections of a number of mortgage lenders in the coming months;

5. Mortgage to rent which is now available as a social housing response to allow people to remain in their house, where possible; and

6. The provision of an independent mortgage information and advice service.

The Central Bank's latest 'Residential Mortgage Arrears and Repossessions Statistics' publication for the end of Q2 2014 shows that the number of mortgage accounts for principal dwelling houses (PDH) in arrears, fell for the fourth consecutive quarter, and, at the end of June 2014, 90,343 PDH mortgage accounts (11.8 per cent in total) were more than 90 days in arrears, representing a decline of almost 3% over the quarter.

The data also shows that almost 102,000 PDH mortgage accounts were classified as restructured and, of these, 81.2 per cent were deemed to be meeting the terms of their current restructure arrangement.

Separately from Central Bank quarterly reports, a monthly reporting regime on mortgage restructures and arrears for the six main banks covered by the Central Bank's MART process has been put in place by my Department.  The latest publication, with data for the end of August 2014, shows that the number of PDH mortgage accounts in arrears of greater than 90 days has fallen by over 8,500 accounts when compared to the end of Q1 2014 while the total number of PDH mortgage arrears of any duration has fallen by almost 11,000 accounts in the same period.

Taken together, the overall strategy and framework is in place to enable banks to work with distressed homeowners to reach sustainable solutions for dealing with their personal indebted situations.  The data published by my Department, as well as the Central Bank data, would appear to demonstrate some success by the lenders in addressing the accounts in mortgage arrears, as well as measures to prevent borrowers from going into arrears. Nevertheless, relevant Departments and agencies will continue to keep the position under review and can make any further adaptions to the overall framework, as considered appropriate. Early and effective engagement between borrowers and lenders remains key to resolving most cases of mortgage difficulty.  Where there is effective and meaningful engagement by all parties regarding a mortgage difficulty, the data shows that an increasing number of durable long term mortgage restructures can and are being put in place.  However, increased engagement by the financial institutions with borrowers in long-term arrears will be necessary to appropriately address unsustainable mortgage loans.

Budget Consultation Process

 326. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the revised growth figures for 2015 for the German economy have any implications for growth figures announced on budget day 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41794/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In conducting our Budget forecasts my officials use the latest international growth forecasts for key trading partners - the UK, US and euro area. For Budget 2015, the OECD Interim Economic Assessment, published on 15 September, was used. 

The OECD forecasts for the euro area are based on the German economy growing by 1.5 per cent in 2014 and in 2015, representing a downward revision from its previous forecasts set out in May. The latest OECD forecasts is in line the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook, published on 7 October but slightly below Germany's own forecast of 1.8 per cent in 2014 and 2.0 per cent in 2015, which was released as part of its Draft Budgetary Plan in October - unchanged from its April Stability Programme Update forecast.


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