Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Finance

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Steven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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70. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some mortgage providers are blocking any mortgage payment moratorium necessitated by job losses due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5867/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, the BPFI announced late last month that over 65,000 mortgage payment breaks had been granted since the cross-bank initiative was introduced. The members of the BPFI announced on 30 April, that a further three-month extension to the current payment break will be made available to customers that continue to be directly impacted by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have been advised by the Central Bank of Ireland (the Central Bank) that it continues to work with regulated entities to ensure the fair treatment of customers who find themselves in financial difficulties due to the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19.  Payment breaks give borrowers affected by COVID-19 the opportunity to postpone or substantially reduce their repayments at a time of stress.  It is clear that these payment breaks are necessary for many borrowers to enable them to deal with the immediate shock that they are experiencing. Through its ongoing engagement with the BPFI and the credit union representative bodies, the Central Bank is working to ensure that affected borrowers are supported through this unprecedented stress.  The Central Bank expects regulated entities to clearly explain to their customers who wish to avail of a payment break, the implications of a payment break and all other existing protections that apply to borrowers facing financial difficulty, including forbearance, and to engage appropriately. Payment breaks should be a generally available option to affected borrowers, including those borrowers currently meeting the terms of alternative repayment arrangements. In this regard, regulated entities should ensure approaches are consistent with any existing arrears strategies and operations.

The Central Bank has emphasised that the provisions of the existing consumer protection framework, which is designed to ensure that consumers’ best interests are protected, particularly in times of financial difficulties, are in place.

If the customer is not happy with the way their financial institution is dealing with them, they can make a complaint to them and if they are not satisfied with the response received from them, the customer has the option to bring a complaint to the independent Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

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