Bank Payment Breaks Must Continue for Workers in Worst Affected Sectors

15 September 2020
  • Payment breaks must continue where needed for workers and companies.
  • Banks must drop the “COVID-19 penalty” applied to payment breaks, in line with European Banking Authority (EBA) guidelines.

Responding to today’s Central Bank report on COVID-19 payment breaks, Labour Finance Spokesperson Ged Nash TD called for banks to continue payment breaks for workers and to waive interest and charges as an act of solidarity to support workers and their families through the crisis.

Deputy Nash said:

“Today’s report from the Central Bank clearly shows that as people have returned to work, the level of payment breaks has significantly dropped with almost half of people returning to full payments by the end of August.

“Yet some sectors, such as accommodation, entertainment & recreational sectors, have not been so fortunate. They are now facing a prolonged period of uncertainty, not helped by a continued lack of clarity and support from Government.

“Bank payment breaks must be extended for workers in these sectors as a matter or priority to help support them through the crisis and prevent families losing their home through no fault of their own.

“Likewise, today’s figures show that nearly half of firms in the Accommodation, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sectors had a payment break, while sectors with a high share of employees either on wage subsidies or temporarily laid-off had the highest mortgage payment break rates.

“This yet again highlights the need for both continued forbearance from Banks for affected firms and the need for additional tailored support from Government to help keep viable businesses in these sectors afloat. 

“COVID-19 was a bolt from the blue for many workers and their families who lost their job and/or income through no fault of their own.

“Due to this once-in-a-lifetime event, many inevitably struggled to keep-up with their mortgage repayments and were forced to avail of a payment break that they otherwise would not have taken.

“These affected workers and their families, many of whom will have taken a hit to their wages and/or working hours, should not now be punished with an additional ‘COVID-19 penalty’ interest charge on their penalty break.

“Such charges could amount to an additional €4,300 payment on an average €300,000 mortgage with 30 years to go – a charge which will cripple ordinary working families recovering from the COVID-19 hit. 

“I am therefore calling on the banks – the same banks that were bailed out by Irish public during the last crisis and in which the State still holds a significant stake – to give workers a break and drop the payment break penalty charges.”

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