Written answers

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Department of Finance

Financial Services

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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31. To ask the Minister for Finance the measures he will introduce to simplify switching mortgages. [23289/23]

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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32. To ask the Minister for Finance the engagement he has held with Central Bank on interest rates being charged by non-bank lenders in the mortgage market; the measures that can be introduced to enable mortgage holders to switch provider; if he will ensure that all lenders offer a fixed-rate option and prevent excessive rates crippling mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23290/23]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 32 together.

The Government is acutely aware of recent events which are impacting on mortgage interest rates. As you know the formulation and implementation of monetary policy is an independent matter for the European Central Bank (ECB).      

However, research has indicated that there is potential for existing mortgage holders to make mortgage savings by switching their mortgage.  This is a particularly important consideration at a time of rising interest rates.   

I have met with the CEOs of the retail banks and a number of non-bank lenders where I emphasised that they should take a consumer focused approach to encourage switching where possible. I have also asked the Banking and Payments Federation to develop a campaign to ensure consumers are aware of the supports available.

On behalf of my Department, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is currently carrying out work which will inform the development of tools to promote switching. However the ESRI’s work also serves to highlight consumer inertia as a critical issue which deserves further attention. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) also play an important role in informing consumers about the options available to them.

In the context of rising interest rates and the increase in the cost of living more generally, the Deputy may wish to note that Central Bank wrote to all regulated firms last November to set out its expectations on how regulated firms should support their customers.

With respect to mortgages, the Central Bank is especially focused on ensuring that firms have the resources and arrangements in place to assess applications from existing and new or switching borrowers in a manner that is timely and based on prudent lending standards applied consistently across all applicants. 

The Central Bank is scrutinizing the switching and lending activity of the retail banks to ensure there is no discrimination based on who a borrower's current creditor is and it has confirmed that the work to date identified no evidence to date of such discrimination.

It is a priority for me to ensure that the regulatory framework supports borrowers in the mortgage switching process.  In the context of the review of the Consumer Protection Code, I have indicated that the Central Bank should review the existing regulatory provisions and consider whether more dedicated mortgage switching resources, such as a standalone mortgage switching code, could better encourage and facilitate switching in the mortgage market.   


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