January 8, 2021
Payment breaks required for borrowers impacted by Covid-19 restrictions – Pearse Doherty TD

Pearse DohertySinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has written to An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and the CEOs of the five retail banks requesting the reintroduction of Covid-19 payment breaks for borrowers impacted by the latest round of public health restrictions.

The Tánaiste confirmed this week that he would not be seeking Covid-19 payment breaks from banks. These breaks 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:

“Today I have written to An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Finance and the CEOs of the five retail banks requesting that Covid-19 payment breaks, protected from credit rating impairment and the accrual of additional interest, be put in place for borrowers impacted by the latest public health restrictions.

“This pandemic and the latest round of public health measures has resulted in job losses, continued unemployment and financial insecurity for so many borrowers, including mortgage-holders and small businesses. 

“By the end of this month, it is expected that between 450,000 and 500,000 people will have lost their jobs, with more than one in five unemployed as a result of restrictions.

“Many of them are borrowers, with loans and mortgages to repay every month. While their income has been reduced, these repayments have not. They need help and relief, and they need it now.

“Once again, the policy of the government is to sit on their hands, do nothing and let the banks call all the shots.

“When this pandemic began, the European Banking Authority issued guidelines that allowed government and lenders to provide for payment breaks for borrowers who were impacted by the virus.

“These guidelines allowed for payment breaks without the charging of additional interest or the impairment of borrowers’ credit ratings.

“On December 2nd, the EBA announced that it was reactivating its payment break guidelines in light of the growth in infection of Covid-19 throughout Europe.

“This was an opportunity to provide real relief for thousands of borrowers.

“Despite calling on the government and banks to seize this opportunity, they failed to do so.

“On Wednesday, the Tánaiste made clear that he would be seeking no such protections for borrowers.

“Instead he has made clear that he will be telling the banks that it is business as usual.

“With so many workers, families and businesses unsure as to how they will make their mortgage and loan repayments, this government is saying ‘you’re on your own’.

“That is just not good enough.The correct response has been obvious for months.

“An extension and reactivation of payment breaks for borrowers who need it, without the charging of additional interest.

“The European regulator allows it, now the government must secure it.

“Today I have written to the Tánaiste, the Minister for Finance and the CEOs of the five retail banks requesting that they put arrangements in place to grant these payment breaks to impacted borrowers as soon as possible.”

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