The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank said that lenders are moving from the blanket, system wide pandemic supports that were given to virtually all borrowers during the Covid crisis, to a more individually tailored approach based on the individuals needs and circumstances. 

Ed Sibley said this may include options such as interest only or other temporary forbearance, and - in some circumstances - further payment breaks. 

However he warned that long extensions and payment breaks are not necessarily in the borrower's interests because the debt is still growing.

The Government confirmed yesterday that the scheme put in place by the banks to offer payment breaks to borrowers struggling financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic will stop accepting new applications as planned from the end of this month.

This followed a meeting between the Tánaiste, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and the chief executives of the country's retail banks. 

According to a Government statement, the ministers used the meeting to underscore the importance of protecting borrowers and offering solutions on a case-by-case basis to customers who are currently on Covid-19 payment breaks. 

Ed Sibley said today that there is no regulatory impediment to further payment breaks being provided, so long as they are in the borrower's interest and appropriate for their circumstances.  

He said that the most important thing is for the lender and borrower to engage effectively and work through the particular circumstances that the borrower is facing to access their needs.

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Mr Sibley said that the Central Bank has worked hard with all lenders to make sure the payment breaks operated well and that lenders were prepared for this phase, but added that not all borrowers would be able to return to fully repaying their loan.

The Central Bank Deputy Governor said the bank would work with the lenders to make sure they are meeting expectations in terms of what happens next. 

He said that in Ireland payment breaks were granted on a voluntary basis and it was not a legislative scheme. 

Typically where legislation was used in similar schemes in other countries, he said, there were adjustments to interest. 

Mr Sibley said the Central Bank had made it clear to lenders that payment breaks were possible with or without charging interest and that whether interest should be charged was a commercial decision for the banks to make.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that banks have obligations to society and should not end payment breaks on loans unilaterally but work on a case by cases basis with customers who are in difficulty through no fault of their own. 

Mr Ryan said that any ending by European regulatory authorities on a break period for loans does not mean that banks need to clamp down on payment breaks. 

He said banks are part of society and depend on a stable, socially-just economic system for success.

Davy Stockbrokers said today the majority of payment breaks were extended to borrowers between the end of March and the middle of June. 

In a note, the stockbrokers said that according to Central Bank data at the end of June, €10.8 billion of mortgage breaks had been extended to Irish mortgage borrowers.

This declined to €6.7 billion by early September as a "meaningful" proportion of borrowers who initially took a three-month payment break reverted to regular payment. 

€9.4 billion of non-mortgage lending (predominately SME and corporate) payment breaks were in place at the end of June, which reduced to €7 billion in early September, Davy said.