Frustrating that our Consumer and Competition Authority won’t address the ‘biggest issue facing Irish consumers’ – Hayes

Brian Hayes MEP has today expressed disappointment that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has refused to conduct an Inquiry into excessive variable mortgage rates charged by Irish banks.

“I sent a letter to the Chair of the CCPC requesting that they conduct an Inquiry into Variable mortgage rates. I received a response and discussed this matter with the Chair directly and she has ruled out conducting any sort of Inquiry.”

“It is frustrating that the CCPC won’t address this problem. This is the biggest issue facing Irish consumers at the moment. There needs to be proper oversight. It would make sense for this independent body, which was set up to defend consumer rights, to conduct an Inquiry into variable mortgage rates.”

“The Central Bank of Ireland recently published figures showing that the average variable rate in Ireland is 1.79% higher than the Eurozone average. Based on these figures, Irish consumers are paying €1.2 billion more than they should be. The average overpayment per borrower is €3,300 per year or €275 per month.”

“The Chair has informed me that to conduct an Inquiry ‘is not considered best use of our resources’ and that ‘any such work would primarily be a matter for the Central Bank and the Department of Finance’.”

“This is clearly an issue about consumer protection. Why can Belgian or German consumers get a rate of about 3% for a long-term fixed mortgage product from their bank when Irish consumers have to pay almost 4.5% for a variable mortgage product. All Eurozone banks are subject to the same main refinancing rate (0.05%).”

“It is also an issue about competition. We only have 5 main players in Ireland and they all offer very similar rates. It would not make sense for the Department of Finance to conduct an Inquiry as the State owns 2 of our main banks and has a sizeable share in another.”

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