“It is essential to create the building blocks of reconstructing our stressed housing economy on a North-South basis.

The Ed Honohan Bill, when it becomes law will create a bonus no one has noticed.

There is no Mortgage Rescue Scheme in Northern Ireland and the one-way traffic of the reliance in the South on Vulture Finance has created a smugness in the North. There is a tendency here to say ‘We have it under control, no Vultures here’.

The main mortgage lenders backed off running to the courts about a year ago and seem to think they have a successful formula of reputational damage limitation. This, they say relies on forbearance, extended terms and agreement on voluntary sales.

This simply cannot last with the highest levels of negative equity in the UK and a potential tsunami of home loss once base rates rise again, as they certainly will.

Social lenders and housing associations on a cross-border approach to mortgage rescue have to be part of the answer. There are sources of funds still to be tapped in Ireland, Europe and the USA for social ethical lending where the funders will be interested in the ethical bottom line.

Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) is willing to take the lead in creating an “Ethical Housing Finance Fund”.

Erskine Holmes| Founding Director of UCIT and NIFHA

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