THE number of people in mortgage arrears rose at the start of the year as the lockdown meant people lost their jobs.
New figures from the Central Bank show a rise in those in arrears for less than three months in the first quarter of this year.
In the three months to March the number of home mortgage accounts in arrears increased by 2,841.
This was driven by a 3,827 increase in the number entering early arrears. This is defined as an account in arrears for less than 90 days.
The overall increase in the numbers in arrears can be attributed to a combination of longer-term arrears accounts reducing, and an increase in new arrears, the Central Bank said.
People in long-term arrears who make some payments, but are still in arrears, are classed as “early arrears” if they go to below 90 days past due.
There was drop of almost 1,000 in those making some payments to reduce the length of time they are in arrears.
Central Bank statisticians said that preliminary indications are that a large number of new arrears accounts have since reverted to having no arrears.
This is largely due to the introduction of Covid-19 payment breaks in the last two weeks of the quarter.
Banks and other lenders announced plans to introduce payment breaks just after St Patrick’s Day, and started to put these facilities in place soon after that.
Those availing of the pandemic payment breaks are not classified as being in arrears.
A total of 63,437 accounts were in some form of arrears.
There was a continued reduction in accounts in longer-term arrears.
At end-March 2020, some 41,079 accounts were in arrears of more than 90 days, down by almost 1,000 accounts over the quarter.
A key measure is the number of mortgage accounts in arrears for more than two years, as these households face the prospect of being evicted.
The new figures show that there were 26,421 accounts in arrears for more than two years, a fall of 664 from the end of last year.
Non-bank entities, such as vulture funds whose mortgages are handled by credit servicing firms, held 13pc of all residential mortgage accounts outstanding at the end of March.
However, they held 55pc of mortgages in arrears for more than two years, the data shows.
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