Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has called for the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank to ensure the banks provide an immediate update on the progress they have achieved in making offers to customers under the mortgage arrears resolution targets announced last March.
Deputy McGrath stated, “It is a month since the deadline passed for the banks to offer sustainable solutions to 20% of their customers in arrears. As yet we have not been provided with information as to whether the targets have been met and, more importantly, the nature of the offers that have been made to customers. We do not need to wait until the next update of mortgage arrears statistics in September. The banks have the capacity to tell us now if they have met their obligations. The Minister and Central Bank should require them to do so immediately.
“The mortgage crisis has deepened over the last two years and the banks have consistently delayed in getting to grips with the problem. The new Personal Insolvency regime has been slow getting up and running and the first applications have been delayed again until August of this year. We cannot afford similar lengthy delay in forcing the banks to face up their responsibilities under mortgage arrears resolution programme (MARP).
“At the time the targets were published last March, the Central Bank indicated that any bank that failed to meet the targets would be forced to set aside additional capital. We need to know that sanction will be used as it would appear to be the only language the banks truly understand.
“Governor Honohan in a recent speech indicated research conducted for the Central Bank indicates that two thirds of those in arrears are in employment. This is a very significant piece of information in that it demonstrates clearly that a significant proportion of people in arrears can have a sustainable solution put in place if the banks display sufficient flexibility.
“To date, the default option has been to simply put customers on interest only or reduced payment arrangements. It is regrettable that the MARP actually considers these to be sustainable solutions when clearly they don’t address the problem in any long term way. We need to see the banks put in place more imaginative solutions such as split mortgages and debt for equity swaps. I am calling on the Minister to revise the list of what is a sustainable solution to remove what are little more than short term forbearance measures and in so doing require the banks to look at the long term needs of the customer.”