Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown has said that people deliberately deciding not to pay their mortgages is “not fair”.
Mr Brown, addressing an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, said that the bank’s target is to be back in profit in 2014.
He also said that the correlation between unemployment and arrears in the Republic broke down in 2011 unlike the situation in the North of Ireland.
The Ulster Bank boss told the Committee that the bank, owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, has exceeded the Central Bank’s 20% target on dealing with mortgage arrears and has provided solutions for over 30% of customers in arrears.
He also said the bank is offering an alternative to split mortgages, where it reduces the repayment on the entire mortgage that has fallen into arrears.
The bank chief said that 72% of Ulster Bank’s mortgage book is made up of tracker mortgages, adding that some customers have deposits which exceed their arrears.
The committee was told that 35% of Ulster Bank customers who are in arrears are not engaging with the bank or are not making any payments. Jim Brown said that the bank does not have a policy of writing off mortgage debt.