Sunday 15 December 2019

Variable rate rip-off did not make it on to Central Bank agenda

Central Bank
Central Bank
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The directors of the Central Bank do not appear to have discussed variable mortgage rates being charged by banks when they met in December.

The board of the Central Bank has for the first time published minutes from its meetings.

But the minutes, which contain redactions, make no mention of variable rates, which are double what is charged elsewhere in the eurozone.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank would not confirm or deny if variable rates were discussed.

Around 300,000 families are on variable mortgage rates, which see them paying up to €4,000 extra a year on a €200,000 mortgage compared with the average in the eurozone.

Brendan Burgess of the Fair Mortgage Rates Campaign said it was clear the Central Bank board, known as the commission, did not discuss the issue.

"There is no evidence from the minutes that the commission discussed variable rates. Why would they redact that if they did discuss it? It's simply not a concern for them," Mr Burgess said. He also said that the Central Bank Governor Philip Lane did not take him up on a request for a meeting to discuss variable rates.

Mr Lane announced the publication of the Central Bank Commission minutes last month as part of a move to make the Central Bank's activities more transparent.

The minutes outline the governor's interactions with the European Central Bank, moves to produce more press releases in the Irish language, and how to monitor the implementation of the bank's Strategic Plan 2016-2018.

There is no mention of variable rates in the minutes for December, Prof Lane's first meeting as governor.

But two parts are omitted - under the sections headed supervisory update, and credit unions.

Asked if this indicated there was no discussion of variable rates, a spokeswoman for the bank would only say: "You can see from the minutes the items that were discussed. Any redactions are clearly flagged," she said.

Irish Independent

Also in Business