Banks fight thousands of disputed tracker cases

Thousands of tracker cases continue to be disputed by banks, despite the scandal dragging on for a decade now.

An additional 8,700 cases in three different banks are being disputed by the lenders.

If the banks eventually have to concede on these it will take the total number of tracker cases to almost 50,000, and could see the total bill for the banks rise by another €290m.

That would mean the total bill will be close to €1.3bn.

Newly-appointed AIB CEO Colin Hunt has been urged to add 6,000 customers to its tracker mortgage redress and compensation scheme.

Consumer advocate Brendan Burgess said the AIB customers started on fixed rates but had a contractual right to a tracker at the “prevailing rate” when the fixed-rate period ended. He claims AIB failed to do so. AIB maintains that “the customer grouping in question did not hold a tracker mortgage”. The bank has offered customers €1,600 each because it did not offer them a tracker, but insists they did not lose out. But it has not put them to trackers or refunded them for overpaid interest.

Mr Burgess has urged the customers to use AIB’s independent appeals panel. The deadline was last Friday, but he said appeal applications would still be accepted. Those who do not appeal will lose all legal rights and options and wave goodbye to any chance of getting their tracker back.

He hopes to mount a legal challenge and says a successful appeal could cost AIB up to €200m in additional redress and compensation.

More than 200 current and former staff in Bank of Ireland, who claim they were promised tracker rates, have so far failed to meet the Central Bank to discuss the issue. This is despite staff in the regulator’s office promising to meet them by the end of February.

A spokesman for the group said: “Our main drive is to secure a face-to-face meeting with the Central Bank to fully explain our situation and how this has impacted members.”

BoI, run by Francesca McDonagh, is holding out, despite already restoring some 1,800 other staff and former staff on trackers, refunding them overpaid interest and paying compensation.

And Permanent TSB insists its tracker probe is complete despite claims there are thousands more cases yet to be resolved. It has restored fewer than 2,000 to trackers, refunded overpaid interest and compensated them.

But tracker denial cases authority Padraic Kissane claims there are another 2,500 cases the bank is refusing to concede on, or where people got redress but were put on the wrong tracker margin.

The Central Bank said the vast majority have been identified but it continues to “review and challenge the work undertaken by lenders to ensure all groups of customers who have been impacted are included for redress and compensation”.

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UK jobs growth surges as labour market defies Brexit

UK employers increased their hiring at the fastest pace in more than three years in the three months to January as the country’s labour market defied the broader weakness in the overall economy as Brexit approached.

The number of people in work surged by 222,000, helping to push down the unemployment rate to 3.9%, its lowest since the start of 1975, official data showed.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rise in employment of 120,000.

With the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union still unclear, many businesses have cut long-term investment in equipment, potentially making them more likely to hire workers who can be sacked if the economy sours.

The strength of the labour market is pushing up wages more quickly.

Total earnings, including bonuses, rose by an annual 3.4% in the three months to January, the Office for National Statistics said, stronger than a median forecast of 3.2% in the Reuters poll.

Wage growth for the three months to December was revised up slightly to 3.5%, its highest since the middle of 2008.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, also rose by 3.4% on the year, in line with the Reuters poll.

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Taoiseach hosts talks with Tusk as Brexit deal deadline looms

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is meeting European Council President Donald Tusk in Dublin with just ten days left before Brexit, but with no deal in sight.

Mr Tusk and Mr Varadkar shook hands on the steps of Government Buildings, but declined to comment to waiting media.

The meeting comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May considers a shock ruling by the chair of the House of Commons, John Bercow, which precludes her from bringing her Brexit deal back before MPs without substantial changes.

On St Patrick’s Day, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted a message to what he called his “Irish friends”, saying Ireland was part of the EU for 40 years and he looked forward to another 40 of peace, prosperity and solidarity.

Mr Tusk will chair the EU leaders’ summit, which begins on Thursday and is the last scheduled gathering before the UK is supposed to leave the EU on 29 March.

It seems likely that Mrs May will seek to extend that Brexit deadline at the meeting, but she requires the unanimous support of the 27 EU prime ministers and presidents.

Her capacity to convince EU leaders she can secure parliamentary backing for any deal has been further undermined by yesterday’s ruling by the chair of the House of Commons Mr Bercow.

And with the whole Brexit process in disarray, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed was in Brussels last night seeking targetted support for farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit outcome.

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ECONOMIC growth came in at 6.7pc in 2018, and although it slowed in the second half of last year, Ireland has experienced the most rapid growth of any eurozone country since 2014.

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MORTGAGE arrears figures from the Central Bank show another fall in the overall numbers behind on their payments.

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Sterling was seeing its best week since January, as investors waited for next week’s parliamentary vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal to exit the European Union.

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The UK will not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving across the land border into Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, it has been announced.

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The UK will not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving across the land border into Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, it has been announced.

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14 Mar 2019
March 14, 2019

Consumer spending falls in February

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Consumer spending has fallen for the second time in three months, according to Visa’s Irish Consumer Spending Index.

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An Post is looking to launch its mortgage product in the spring of next year, it said on Wednesday when announcing a loan product that offers up to €75,000.

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