Minister Must Stop Mortgage Blacklisting for Workers Whose Employers Receive Wage Subsidy Support (EWSS)

Ged Nash TD
03 February 2021
  • Potential homebuyers across the country are being denied drawdown of their mortgage by banks as their employer is availing of the EWSS
  • Up to 300,000 workers and their partners may be affected, with more than 30,000 firms receiving the wage subsidy
  • Minister for Finance must take urgent action

 

Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour Finance Spokesperson Ged Nash demanded the Minister for Finance take urgent action to prevent banks blacklisting workers from obtaining or drawing down a mortgage in cases where their employer is availing of the EWSS. The Louth & East Meath TD said:

“Last October, I lifted the lid on the sharp practice of Banks – including State-owned banks such as Permanent TSB, AIB and Bank of Ireland – who are asking mortgage applicants whether their employer is availing of the EWSS. Not only has this suspect practice continued in recent months, but it has now drastically escalated.

“Since then, I have been contacted by numerous people from across the country – young couples, first-time buyers and those seeking a home for their children – who are now being suddenly denied drawdown on a mortgage for a new home by their bank. In all these cases, the primary reason for rejection of an application or drawdown is that the ‘employer is registered on the EWSS’. 

“Shockingly, even if an individual applicant is not receiving the wage subsidy bu virtue of them being a higher earner, but their firm is availing of the scheme, they may still be blacklisted.

“The implications of this EWSS mortgage blacklisting are potentially massive, with 300,000 workers and some 30,000 employers availing of the support. There is now a very real danger that the recent publication of the “Employers receiving the EWSS” list on the Revenue website may serve as a go to “Mortgage Blacklist” charter for banks.

Deputy Nash continued:

“In some cases, banks are performing U-turns on individual cases when pressure is applied.

“But as noted with a particular case in the media yesterday, this is only after awkward questions are asked by outsiders such a journalist or a case is made by a national politician such as myself. They are then trying to frame these as “one-off” errors rather than a systematic policy of discrimination. This is not how business should be done.

“This behaviour is nothing short of disingenuous and down-right sneaky, as we well know that for every one person that is challenging this rejection, there are countless more who do not have the means, time or energy to fight back on this issue, and who subsequently risk losing their dream home or deposit.

“This bullying behaviour by banks is absolutely scandalous in the context of Covid-19 and a national housing crisis and represents another smack in the face for ordinary workers.

“As one constituent of mine has noted in an email to the Minister for Finance on the issue, this is nothing short of “disgraceful” behaviour and they feel “stabbed” in the back by banks such as Permanent TSB, AIB and BOI which have been bailed out by citizens.

“The Minister for Finance must urgently take action to ensure no individual or couple are blacklisted from a mortgage on the basis of their employer receiving the EWSS, and pillar banks must immediately review and reverse all decisions where mortgage applicants meet all the relevant criteria but have been denied drawdown on EWSS grounds.”

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