- New website DealingWithDebt.ie outlines a range of advice and solutions available for customers including switching options
- BPFI and MABS announce expansion of joint agreement to facilitate borrower-lender engagement
Tuesday 6th June 2023 – The country’s retail banks, non-bank lenders and credit servicing firms, in association with BPFI and with support from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), are this week rolling out a nationwide information and awareness campaign encouraging customers to talk to their lender or credit services provider if they are concerned about their mortgage or other repayments such as credit cards or personal loans due to the current cost of living pressures.
As part of the campaign BPFI has launched a new online resource DealingWithDebt.ie, which provides in-depth information for customers on the best action to take if they are experiencing financial difficulties that may impact their ability to meet their mortgage or other repayments. As well as outlining how lenders can work with customers in this situation and the options and solutions available, the website also details key contacts for all lenders and credit servicing firms in addition to independent consumer support bodies. The resource will be supported by a nationwide advertising campaign including national and local radio, social media and digital.
In addition to today’s campaign launch BPFI and MABS have announced the expansion of their joint framework agreement to include all customers from the pre-arrears stage to late-stage arrears. Developed in 2017, the BPFI-MABS Framework Agreement for Late-Stage Mortgage Arrears was established toprovide for how MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Advisers and lenders can work together to try to resolve mortgage arrears for those borrowers who have already gone through the Central Bank’s Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) and are entering or are about to enter the legal process. Supported by the retail banks and credit servicing firms, in light of the current cost of living pressures, the framework agreement has now been expanded to include mortgage customers across all arrears categories including those who are pre-arrears.
Speaking about today’s launch Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “BPFI member banks, non-banks and credit servicing firms are very aware that with the increased cost of living, as well as recent rises in interest rates, many households are coming under increased financial pressure. While members are not seeing any trends that would indicate a cause for concern in the numbers of arrears cases currently presenting, for those customers who are worried or struggling with their mortgage repayments or indeed other payments such as personal loans, credit cards or overdrafts, our one key message today, is that the most important thing you can do is to contact your bank or financial services provider as soon as possible or indeed a trusted third party such as MABS among others. Irish banks have the widest set of solutions available to mortgage customers in difficulty across Europe and have been involved in restructuring over 100,000 mortgages in the past ten years. They have highly experienced teams who can explain all the options available and work with customers to find a sustainable solution for those who may be in difficulty. The latest Central Bank figures show that more than 60,000 home mortgages were in a restructuring arrangement by the end of last year (December 2022) and more than 88% of these are meeting the terms of their current agreements. This clearly shows that many customers in financial difficulty are working with their providers and being supported through alternative arrangements.”
Mr Hayes added: “For some consumers, switching their mortgage from their current provider, such as a credit servicing firm, to another provider, may also be an option. If your financial circumstances have changed and if you meet the criteria of another mortgage provider, this option might be now available on a case-by-case basis. There are really helpful resources available from the Central Bank of Ireland Consumer Hub and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and you can also contact alternative mortgage providers for advice.”
Michelle O’Hara, National Spokesperson for MABS stated: “While many households in Ireland are managing to juggle the current cost of living pressures, it is really important that people reach out for support before finding themselves in difficulty. If people are finding themselves under pressure the key is communication. Although it can feel difficult to make that first step, it is really important for customers to communicate directly with their lender, or if they feel they can’t do that, I strongly encourage people to reach out to MABS. We have expert advisors available who can provide advice and support or liaise with your lender on your behalf. Our services are free, independent, confidential and non-judgemental and are available to all members of the public who may have difficulties with a wide range of personal debts including personal loans, mortgages, credit card debt, catalogue debts, debts to legal moneylenders and hire purchases.”
Mr Hayes concluded: “We are grateful that MABS is supporting this initiative and I want to acknowledge the extraordinary work they do across the country as independent advisors. If customers feel uncertain about contacting their provider, MABS provides free and impartial advice and support. BPFI works very closely with MABS on an ongoing basis and as well as our campaign launch today we are also announcing the expansion of our joint BPFI-MABS Framework Agreement which has now been widened out to cover customers in pre-arrears right though to those in late-stage arrears. We will continue to work with MABS in the coming weeks and months as we monitor the impact of the current cost of living and interest rate changes.”
Further information is available at www.DealingWithDebt.ie.
About BPFI: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland. Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has over 125 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.
About MABS: The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is a free, independent, confidential and non-judgmental money advice and budgeting service for all members of the public. MABS primarily works with people experiencing over-indebtedness. MABS money advisers work with clients who may have difficulties with a wide range of personal debts including personal loans, mortgages, credit card debt, catalogue debts, debts to legal moneylenders and hire purchases.