We’re way behind with our mortgage and can’t pay our other bills either. We’re afraid that the bank will take our home – they keep sending us letters. What can we do?
You can contact MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, to get help under the scheme of aid and advice for borrowers in home mortgage arrears. Contact the MABS Helpline: 0761 07 2000 (9am – 8pm, Mon – Fri) or your local MABS office.
This scheme is part of Abhaile, the national Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service. It provides a range of services to help you to deal with your situation, including financial advice, legal advice and insolvency advice.
Abhaile is coordinated by the Departments of Justice and Equality, and Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is operated by MABS along with the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), the Legal Aid Board and the Citizens Information Board. Panels of qualified and regulated professionals provide services under Abhaile.
You will qualify for advice and assistance under Abhaile if:
- You are insolvent – this means that you are unable to pay your debts in full as they fall due and
- You are in mortgage arrears on your home and
- You are at risk of losing your home (for example, if your mortgage lender has initiated repossession proceedings or indicated that they plan to do so; if they have said that they consider you to be non-cooperating; or if they have asked you to consider selling or surrendering your home) and
- The costs of staying in your home are proportionate to your reasonable accommodation needs
You can contact MABS to check if you are eligible for Abhaile (as eligibility is decided case by case). Read more about Abhaile on mabs.ie.
How are charities regulated in Ireland?
The Charities Regulatory Authority (Charities Regulator) regulates charities in Ireland. It maintains a public register of charities and monitors their compliance with the Charities Act 2009. This Act sets out what an organisation must do to be recognised as a charity and the legal obligations for operating as a charity in Ireland.
To be considered a charity, an organisation must:
- Operate in the Republic of Ireland (though its target group can be elsewhere)
- Exist for a charitable purpose and exclusively promote this purpose (a charitable purpose is a goal that is of public benefit)
- Not be an excluded body (such as a trade union, chamber of commerce etc.)
The organisation must first give the Regulator information about itself, so the Regulator can assess if it meets the requirements to be a charity. If the Regulator approves the application, it awards the organisation charitable status, gives it a Registered Charity Number and lists it on the charities register. You can search the charities register on charitiesregister.ie.
It is an offence for an organisation to describe itself as a charity and carry out charitable activities, if it is not registered with the Charities Regulator.
The Regulator can appoint an inspector to investigate a charity’s affairs. The charity and its trustees must co-operate fully and give the inspector all the relevant accounts and documents.
The Regulator can choose to take a charity off the register – for example, if it fails to comply with its financial obligations or give the Regulator the information it requires.
If you are concerned about a charity or its activities, you can raise a concern with the Charities Regulator.
To vote in an Irish election or referendum, you must be on the Register of Electors. The Draft Register of Electors for 2019-2020 is now available. You can check it at local authority offices, Garda stations, libraries, post offices, or online at checktheregister.ie, until 25 November 2018. The new Register will come into effect on 15 February 2019.
If you will be aged 18 or over on 15 February 2019, you should check that your name and address are listed and correct on the Draft Register. If there are any mistakes with your details, contact your local authority before 25 November 2018 to have them corrected.
If you are not on the Register and you want to be included on it, you must fill in form RFA (pdf). If you need to correct or change your entry, you must fill in form RFA1 (pdf). If you are on the Register but your address has changed, you use form RFA3 (pdf). This will also remove you from the Register for your previous address.
Read more about registering to vote.
Science Week runs from 11-18 November 2018. This year Science Week has 12 regional festivals where people can learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Each festival has a programme of events which celebrates science and research in the community. These events include family open days, schools outreach events, workshops and public talks.
Read more about Science Week 2018.
I am a full-time carer for my mother. I don’t qualify for a medical card but I’ve heard that a GP visit card for carers is now available. How do I apply to get one?
The rules for GP visit cards have changed. Now everyone who is getting Carer’s Benefit or Carer’s Allowance, at full rate or half rate, is eligible for a GP visit card.
To get the GP visit card, you complete the registration form for carers. The form does not ask for information about your income – just your personal and contact details. You also need to get the form signed by your GP. You must choose your GP from the list of participating GPs.
You can get a registration form, and the list of participating GPs, on medicalcard.ie or by calling LoCall 1890 252 919. You can also register for the card online at medicalcard.ie.
When you have a GP visit card, you can visit the GP for free. It also covers visits to out-of-hours GP services. However, the GP visit card does not cover hospital charges.
Prescribed drugs are not covered by the card but, if you use the Drugs Payment Scheme, there is a limit on how much you have to pay for prescriptions each month. At present, you pay a maximum of €134 in a calendar month for approved prescribed drugs and medicines for use by yourself and your family in that month.
You can download an application form for the Drugs Payment Scheme from the Health Service Executive (HSE) website, hse.ie, or you can get an application form from your pharmacy or Local Health Office.
The Be Winter Ready campaign aims to raise awareness about the challenges that winter can bring. This year’s campaign is focusing on building strong communities and looking out for vulnerable people.
Read more about the campaign.
I am planning to get married and need my birth certificate to give notice. I can’t find it. How and where do I get a new one?
If you plan to get married in Ireland, you must give 3 months’ notice. To do this, you need to book a marriage notification appointment at a civil registration service. You need to bring certain documents with you to this appointment, including a full standard birth certificate and a copy of this certificate.
You can apply for a birth, marriage or death certificate, or copies of these certificates, online, by email, by post or in person at a civil registration office or the General Register Office. There is a €20 fee for issuing birth, marriage and death certificates. There is a €4 fee for each photocopy requested (however, you can make copies of certificates yourself).
You can apply for a birth, marriage or death certificate online at lifeevents.hse.ie. You can also apply in person to any civil registration service. Contact details for civil registration services are on hse.ie.
If you wish to apply by post, you should complete an Application for certificate of Birth/Death/Marriage/Adoption/Civil Partnership (available online and at civil registration service offices) and send it to the Office of the Registrar General, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon.
To apply for a certificate by email, you will need to download an Email Application for certificate of Birth/Death/Marriage/Adoption/Civil Partnership, complete the required details and email the form to GROonlinepayments@groireland.ie. When the General Register Office receives your email application, it will email you a secure payment link, allowing you to pay the fee using a debit or credit card. Certificates are printed on secure paper and must be posted.
There is more information available on welfare.ie.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has apologised to people who continue to have problems with Illness Benefit payments.
If you are affected by these issues, you can call the Department’s helpline at (01) 704 3300 or 1890 928 400 or else email email@example.com.
If you are experiencing urgent financial difficulties, you should contact your Community Welfare Service (CWS). CWS staff can meet claimants in Intreo Centres and can travel to claimants who have mobility issues.
Read more on welfare.ie and in our document on Illness Benefit.
Self-assessed taxpayers should make their “pay and file” tax return by 31 October 2018, if they are making a paper return. People using the Revenue Online System (ROS) have until Wednesday 14 November 2018 to make their return.
You should pay and file on time to avoid surcharges, interest and penalties, and reduce your risk of a tax audit. Under the pay and file system, you must do the following:
- Make your tax return for the 2017 tax year, including a self-assessment of your tax due for that year
- Pay the balance of any tax due for 2017
- Pay Preliminary Tax for the current tax year – 2018.
Visit revenue.ie for more information, including a guide to self-assessing your income tax.
Read more about using ROS to make your tax return.
Winter time starts at 1.00 am on Sunday 28 October 2018. You should put your clocks and watches back one hour.
Summer time will start at 1.00 am on Sunday 31 March 2019.