Almost one in five of all consumer loans issued by Irish financial institutions and around €20 billion worth of mortgages may be in arrears, RTÉ News has learned.

There has been a dramatic increase in missed payments on these loans as consumers struggle with the recession.

The Central Bank only publishes three-month arrears figures for mortgages which currently stands at around 7.2%.

But RTÉ understands that over 12% of mortgages are currently at least one month in arrears. This includes mortgages in mediation or before the courts.

Arrears on non-mortgage debt are much higher. It is understood that up to 18% of all personal debt are at least one month in arrears. This includes things like car loans and credit cards.

The chief executive of the Irish Credit Bureau, Seamus O'Tighearnaigh, agreed that the level of arrears is likely to be in this range. The ICB compiles and shares data on missed loan payments from all the main Irish banks and around half of all credit unions.