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Banks to brief Central Bank officials on plans for customers affected by coronavirus outbreak

The country's five main banks will later brief Central Bank officials on their plans for customers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Yesterday it was announced homeowners financially impacted by Covid-19 will be able to have their mortgage repayments frozen for three months.

Following a meeting with the Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, the banks are working on a simplified application process to make it easier for customers to receive support.

Banks have also agreed that any Covid-19 applications for a payment break will not adversely impact on credit records and court proceedings will be deferred for three months.

Landlords with tenants who are out of work due to Covid-19 will be able to avail of the payment break of up to three months, while banks will ensure a wide range of credit, cash flow and supply chain supports are offered to businesses.

Mr Donohoe said if any landlord avails of the flexibility being afforded by the banks, they should not use it to evict tenants.

    The measures in brief:

  • 1. Implement a payment break up to three months for business and personal customers affected by Covid-19, to be followed by ongoing reviews depending on the scale and extent of the situation. Customers wishing to avail of a payment break should contact their respective bank.
  • 2. The banks agree there is a need for a simplified application process to make it as easy as possible for businesses and personal customers impacted by Covid-19 to receive support from their banks. We are working with all member banks to achieve this.
  • 3. The banks want to ensure that any Covid-19 application for a payment break and further reviews will not adversely impact the customer's credit record, and the banks reporting of these facilities. Banks want to avoid this and are meeting with the Central Bank of Ireland to urgently achieve a solution in this regard.
  • 4. Banks will also defer court proceedings for three months.
  • 5. The banking system stands ready to provide working capital support.
  • 6. We have had initial discussions with Credit Servicing Firms and with those non-bank lenders who provide mortgages. Both the Credit Servicing Firms and non-bank lenders have issues which we need to address with the Central Bank of Ireland, but both are committed to working with the Government and industry to provide the flexibility that people need right now.

Today's discussions are expected to focus on the current mortgage lending rules, with bankers looking for them to be streamlined given the current crisis.

David Hall, CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, says not involving the banking regulator from the start was a mistake.

“There should not have been any announcement yesterday by the Minister until there was absolute certainy involving all banks and all vulture funds as to what’s going to happen into the future,” said Mr Hall.

“I think we are in a very precarious position.

“There is an inherent risk here that inaction, lack of clarity and a complicated process will just have people put their hands in the air and say ‘I’ll worry about this if I survive the next few months’.”

[ul][b]Useful information[/b] [li]The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here [/li] [li]Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;[/li] [li]GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.[/li] [li]ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024[/li] [/ul]