September 6, 2023
Measures announced by banking industry could have little value for tens of thousands of mortgage prisoners – Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, Pearse Doherty TD, has responded to today’s announcement by the banking industry in response to the mortgage misery so many households are facing.

The Donegal TD warned that the initial eligibility criteria for households to switch could be of no value whatsoever for tens of thousands of mortgage prisoners.

Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:

“On the 4th August I called on the Minister to convene a meeting with the Central Bank and banking industry to develop a strategy to support those facing soaring interest rates.

“While the Minister met with the sector last week, what households need to see are results.

“It appears that today’s announcement will do little to help tens of thousands of mortgage prisoners who had their mortgage loans sold to vulture funds.

“These sales were supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“There are elements of today’s announcement by the banking sector which I welcome – in particular the streamlined customer engagement framework between MABS and vulture funds, and dedicated phonelines by the retail banks for mortgage prisoners that want to switch.

“However, the initial eligibility criteria announced by the main lenders will mean nothing to a significant cohort of mortgage prisoners.

“Those on split mortgages will be excluded.

“Those who have had their loans restructured will struggle to meet these criteria given they are being charged interest rates as high as 10 percent by vulture funds.

“Many of those no longer in arrears or in a restructure will be excluded as their credit record will still be impaired.

“This suggests that today’s statement will mean nothing for tens of thousands of mortgage prisoners.

“What we need to see now is analysis from the Central Bank regarding how many mortgage holders could switch with these eligibility criteria in place – and I will be writing to the Central Bank to clarify this question.

“What is clear is that these mortgages should never have been sold to vulture funds, and banks have a responsibility to right a wrong and provide a path for mortgage prisoners to return to the mainstream mortgage market.

“It is also incumbent on the Government to support households that are suffering from this income shock.

“1 in 5 households are set to see their annual mortgage costs rise by more than €5,700.

“It is incumbent on the Government to support households that are suffering from this income shock.

“Sinn Féin have called for the introduction of temporary and targeted mortgage interest relief to support struggling households.

“The Government must act.”

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