Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD has said the silence on whether the banks met the end of June mortgage arrears targets must be broken. Deputy McGrath has called for the Minister for Finance and the Central Bank to provide an immediate update on the progress the banks have achieved in making offers to customers under the mortgage arrears resolution targets announced last March.
Deputy McGrath stated: “It is over seven weeks 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 any information whatsoever as to whether the targets have been met and, more importantly, the nature of the offers that have been made to customers. On Friday of this week, the latest mortgage arrears statistics showing the position at the end of June will be published. However, these statistics will not tell us whether the banks have achieved the targets that were set last March.
“At the time the targets were published, we were told by the government that ‘The Central Bank will also, in the months ahead, set demanding quarterly targets for the conclusion of sustainable solutions and for the subsequent performance of these solutions’. However, no targets have yet been set for the banks to actually reach solutions with those in mortgage arrears. We were also told that ‘The Central Bank will require public disclosure of performance against these targets and will audit performance against the targets’ but there has been no public disclosure to date. The reality is that the banks have yet to be held to account for how they are dealing with the mortgage arrears crisis.
“It will not be enough for the Central Bank or the banks to come out and say that the targets have been achieved. The reality is that the targets could be achieved by the banks initiating legal proceedings, putting somebody into insolvency or offering another interest only period. We need to know specifically what offers have been to and agreed with borrowers. My experience of dealing with those in mortgage arrears in recent weeks is that the banks have become more hardline in their approach. Emboldened by the new powers under the revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and the legislation to reverse the Dunne judgment, the banks are aggressively declaring mortgages unsustainable and are seeking voluntary surrender of properties. This is being done in many cases where the mortgage could in my view be rescued if the proper resolution tools were used.”