Irish banks ready to work with firms impacted by Level 5

Banking & Payments Federation Ireland says its members will support businesses through Level 5 and beyond.

The representative body for the banking industry in Ireland Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) said its members recognise the financial challenges that moving to Level 5 lockdown poses for many people and will give their full support over the next six weeks and beyond.

It said that in line with European Banking Authority (EBA) guidelines, in excess of 150,000 payment breaks have been delivered by the industry since March of this year.

“We are encouraging customers whose income and financial situation has been impacted, to talk to their lender who are there to help and support at this very difficult time”

From midnight tonight (22 October) Ireland will move to Level 5 lockdown in a move aimed at reducing rising Covid-19 levels. It is envisaged the six-week lockdown will cost the Irish economy €1.5bn and could impact up to 150,000 jobs.

The three Government schemes – the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and Covid Restrictions Subsidy Scheme (CRSS) will all add up to €200m a week.

Sectors such as hospitality, tourism, retail, sport and leisure will be severely impacted by the measures.

Individual solutions

BPFI represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland, including 100 member institutions and associates.

“Some 2,500 staff in financial support units across the five retail banks are actively working with mortgage customers and SMEs facing financial challenges to fully understand their situation and to put in place an individual solution for them,” BPFI CEO Brian Hayes said.

“We understand that this is a hugely stressful time for many customers and that payment breaks may be part of the overall customer solution.”

He continued: “A wide range of solutions are being made available by lenders at this time and are being worked through with borrowers. We already have established structures in place for those customers who find themselves struggling to meet repayments. Lenders are using these established processes and are acutely focused on engagement, assessment, and solutions.”

Hayes said lenders have committed substantial staff resources to support customers at this time of enormous stress and uncertainty.

“We are encouraging customers whose income and financial situation has been impacted, to talk to their lender who are there to help and support at this very difficult time.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 21 October, 2020