I will comment on the key headings and then move on.
Since we last met, the IPO for AIB has been completed, which was a significant transaction in itself. That has progressed the position of the bank and also the position of the State during that period. That is a positive transaction in confirming the position of private investors in terms of their view of the bank and realising for the State a significant amount of capital and positioning it to realise more capital as it wishes.
The financial performance of the bank, as reported in its recent half-year financial statements, continues to be positive and strong, with strong levels of capital and strong levels of profitability. The economy is one of the key issues that underpins the success and the position of the bank. That continues to perform well and strongly and it is evidenced by our ability to grow our lending position into the economy as has been evidenced by the growth in lending statistics, both in the SME sector and the housing side during that period.
One of the key issues affecting the economy at this point in time, and nationally, is housing. The severe shortage of housing is one of the factors that we will focus on quite significantly as a bank and deploy our resources to try to help in terms of the bank's position on housing. Interest rates are obviously a crucial issue in that context. The bank has recently made significant progress in terms of announcing a fifth standard variable rate, SVR reduction and positioning ourselves in terms of our front and back book positioning across the institutions. We believe the position we hold on SVR is very attractive and one that reflects the overall objective of the bank to be fair to our customer sets.
The arrears, non-performing loans and tracker issues are an important development. We have made significant progress in terms of the tracker redress scheme at this point in time. Also, in term of our overall perspective on arrears, significant progress has been made by reducing by a very significant amount the arrears position both in terms of the SME population, in terms of the construction side and the residential mortgage portfolios but we will undoubtedly talk about those later.
Brexit is a key issue for the economy and for the bank. In the short term there has been very little impact on the economic side so far but that will progress as the economy develops. Perhaps the key issue to talk about because it is not discussed significantly is what has actually changed in the economy from a banking point of view in the past eight years. One of the sections in this report deals with how the regulatory environment has changed very significantly in the past eight years, as Europe has effectively taken charge of the banking system both in Ireland and across Europe in general.
The key elements that I have discussed which are important to reflect upon is that AIB, in line with other major institutions in the country, is now regulated from Europe.
We know that is the case but the effect is to have a standard common platform for deep and intrusive regulation across all key financial services companies in Europe and that provides a degree of assurance about the prudential standards being applied. The level of capital implicit in the system has very significantly increased both in terms of its quality and the way it is calculated. The amount of capital, as estimated by the Governor of the Bank of England rather than ourselves, is now about 10 times higher than before the crisis and that is because of increases in the quantum and the way capital is calculated.
The third point is that significant progress has been made on the recovery and resolution regime. Effectively, in addition to equity capital, bail-in capital is being provided. In combination with the recovery and resolution planning through which all institutions are forced to go that provides a degree of assurance that in the event of another crisis or problem emerging in any financial institution or marketplace the system is now quite robust and the rescue of any system or bank would in the first instance and, in most cases all instances, be out of a European resolution plan with the bail-in of that capital. All of that increases the cost of operating the bank in terms of complying with regulation but it provides a much more secure and sound banking system that operates to European as opposed to individual jurisdictional norms for all countries concerned and not just Ireland. As we conclude our IPO, it is worth reflecting on how that system has changed quite dramatically over that time period.
We recognise future changes such as in terms of the competitor set but fundamentally think the Irish economy is well positioned and AIB is well positioned therein to continue to support growth in terms of individual customer ambitions and industry ambition to grow and develop.
That is a quick summary of the report and hopefully is consistent with it.