I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 177, 191 and 290 together.
The recent mortgage arrears and repossession statistics indicated that 95,554 (12.3%) of principal dwelling mortgage accounts were in arrears of over 90 days at the end of March 2013. While this represented an increase of around 3,200 accounts on the position as at end 2012, the rate of increase, while still upward, is not as strong as that which generally prevailed in recent years. The main reason for the increase in the level of mortgage arrears is of course the prevailing economic situation with the high level of unemployment, reduced disposable income and a decline in property prices all contributing to this. The mortgage arrears problem is a major problem that needs to be resolved for the long term economic and social health of the country and the Government has now put in place a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem.
The Central Bank compiles and publishes quarterly mortgage arrears and repossession statistics for both primary domestic homes (PDH) and buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages and my Department closely monitors these statistics closely. Regarding future mortgage arrears data, the Central Bank will, over the coming months, commence the publication of additional statistics which will be designed to provide more information on the level of progress in relation to mortgage arrears resolution. One such measure is the number of newly agreed loan modifications during each reference quarter. This will be captured for both temporary and permanent mortgage restructure types. A second measure of progress is the performance of restructured loans. Current data collection only allows the user to identify whether a restructured account is in arrears or not; it does not capture information on those accounts that still have old arrears outstanding but which are meeting the terms of the new restructured arrangement. Reporting performance against specific resolution targets, as well as the full suite of key performance indicator data, should provide a more complete measure of progress in addressing arrears cases.
The necessary overall strategy and building blocks to address long term mortgage arrears are now in place. These include the Central Bank targets initiative, the new Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the fundamental change to personal insolvency legislation including the provision of new, more accessible and less penal resolution mechanisms to debtors and a comprehensive mortgage information and advice service. The main onus is now on lenders to move to address individual arrears cases in a comprehensive and speedy manner.