The Central Bank plans to make it easier for home owners to switch mortgage providers. Figures published by the regulator yesterday pointed to the fact that four in five mortgage holders have not even considered switching providers. 

Frank Conway, founder of Moneywhizz, which promotes greater levels of financial literacy, said there was a complex set of reasons behind people's reluctance to switch. "If you look back to 2005-2006, there was a vibrant market with competition from the likes of Bank of Scotland. But what has happened since has been a collapse in the pillars underpinning the switching market. Equity in property has fallen, there has been a rise in arrears - which has affected credit profiles - and a huge cut in wages, which underpins the ability to repay. A combination of these factors undermines the ability to switch," he explained.


Mr Conway said recent figures appeared to point to an uplift in switching behaviour in recent months with rising property prices helping. "Anecdotally, people are aware that they're on a higher rate and that there are offers out there. Figures from the Banking and Payments Federation indicate that in the final quarter of last year, the switcher market was the fastest growing of all segments," he said.

Frank Conway pointed to the magnitude of the potential savings over the lifetime of the loan. "On a mortgage of €250,000, you could be looking at savings of €50,000 to €60,000 if you're on a high rate and have a good loan to value ratio," he explained. 

He said the key ingredient for switching was competition and that looks like it is re-entering the market with banks starting to get the message out. "The biggest issue is equity in the property. The biggest difficulty for banks is that they don't want to drive a campaign when they may get a lot of people who don't have the equity or the income," he concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The National Competitiveness Council has warned that the UK is likely to step up investment in infrastructure and to enhance its own tax offering as its departure from the EU draws closer. The Council also said that other countries will seek to enhance their competitiveness as a big shift in global trade patterns take hold. It said Brexit brings into sharp focus a number of infrastructure bottlenecks that are apparent here, including broadband deficits, and skills deficits which it says could become more acute.

*** Healthy fast food chain Chopped is to double its Irish footprint with the opening of 20 new stores across the country taking its Irish store count to 40. The expansion will see the creation of 320 new jobs in its stores. The company is also taking on 110 staff to support its expansion into the UK market, where it plans to open six new stores. This marks its first move outside of Ireland.

*** Exploration firm Providence Resources has reported a loss for 2016 of £20.5m, down from a loss of just over €24m in 2015. The company had no debt at the end of the year after it restructured its balance sheet with the support of new and existing investors. Providence is ready to start drilling on a number of projects and with the price of oil on the increase again, it said it is optimistic about the outlook for 2017.

*** Shares in the company behind United Airlines recovered a bit of ground yesterday having made some fairly big losses on the open on Wall Street. It followed the emergence of footage on social media showing a passenger being forcibly removed from what was an overbooked United Airlines flight. Shares in United Continental Holdings fell 4% after an initial statement from United chief Oscar Munoz in which he apologised for some travellers having to be re-accommodated. He later apologised for what he branded a truly horrific incident. The stock closed just 1% down on the day.

*** Japanese tech giant Toshiba has warned that there are doubts about its future viability after it failed to get its third quarter earnings numbers signed off by an auditor. The group took the unorthodox step of publishing unaudited accounts, risking a loss of status as a listed company. It reported a loss of nearly $6 billion for the three months - mainly accounted for by a writedown on a US subsidiary. The group is in the process of trying to offload its chip manufacturing business to help plug the hole in its finances.