Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the government for abandoning borrowers in its failure to secure Covid-19 payment break extensions for mortgage-holders and SMEs affected by the latest round of public health restrictions.
On January 8th, Teachta Doherty wrote to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Finance and the CEOs of the five retail banks requesting an extension to payment breaks under the EBA guidelines, which protect them from credit rating impairment and the charging of additional interest.
The Tánaiste confirmed that he would not be seeking Covid-19 payment breaks from the banks which would protect borrowers from the charging of additional interest and the impairment of their credit ratings. Instead, borrowers have been told they are on their own while it will be business as usual for the banks.
Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:
“The government has abandoned borrowers, mortgage-holders and small businesses in the latest wave of the virus.
“There are now 400,000 people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This number is set to rise, with more than one in five to be unemployed by the end of the month.
“These are people who have lost their jobs as a result of public health restrictions. Thousands of them are mortgage-holders.
“On December 2nd, the European Banking Authority its payment break guidelines in light of the growth in infection of Covid-19 throughout Europe. They were reactivated to provide support and relief to borrowers.
“They would have allowed the government and banks to put in place payment break extensions for three months, for the duration of these latest public health restrictions.
“Crucially, this would have ensured that borrowers who availed of these breaks would not be charged additional interest or have their credit ratings impaired.
“Disgracefully, the government has refused to secure or even seek this extension for mortgage-holders and SMEs.
“Instead of securing relief for borrowers, the government has abandoned them.
“I wrote to the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance on January 8th setting out what is required – a three-month payment break extension without any increase in subsequent repayments. To date I have received no response.
“This inaction is denying much needed relief to thousands of workers, families and small businesses throughout the state.
“The Tánaiste and Minister for Finance must explain their refusal to even seek a payment break extension for these borrowers.”