I, as Minister for Finance, have no statutory role in relation to the mortgage interest rates charged by regulated financial institutions. It is a commercial matter for the banks concerned. The Central Bank has responsibility for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions in terms of consumer protection and prudential requirements and for ensuring ongoing compliance with applicable statutory obligations. The Central Bank has, however, no statutory role in the setting of interest rates by financial institutions, apart from the interest rate cap imposed on the credit union sector in accordance with the provisions of the Credit Union Act, 1997.
The mortgage interest rates that financial institutions operating in Ireland charge to customers are determined as a result of a commercial decision by the institutions concerned. This interest rate is determined taking into account a broad range of factors, including European Central Bank base rates, deposit rates, market funding costs, the competitive environment and an institution’s overall funding.
However, as part of the Central Bank’s work on mortgage arrears, lenders were asked to consider all avenues to help customers in arrears, including interest rate reductions. Currently, several lenders do consider a temporary interest rate reduction but this is on a case by case basis.