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    BKIE   IE0000730790


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Bank of Ireland : announces new measures to help 'reboot' Irish economy

07/02/2020 | 07:26am EDT

* EUR1.4 billion in new funding to support homebuilding and 'green' investment.

A further EUR1 million donation to support local enterprise and community groups

Bank urges new Government to put COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme in place as quickly as possible to help Irish businesses get back on their feet

Bank of Ireland has today announced a number of measures to support Ireland's economic recovery with a particular focus on housing, local enterprise and communities, and customers impacted by COVID-19. With the Irish economy now reopening more quickly than originally planned, the Bank has also called on the new Government to put in place the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme for Irish SMEs as quickly as possible.

Measures announced today include:

1. Homebuilding and green investment - EUR1.4 billion in new funding

To ensure that the recovery is sustainable by encouraging home-owners and businesses to be more energy efficient, the Bank is making an additional EUR1 billion in funding for green mortgages, loans and discounts available over the coming year through the Bank of Ireland Sustainable Finance Fund.

To support homebuilding, the Bank is also increasing the amount earmarked for residential development lending by EUR400 million to a total of EUR2 billion. The Bank is currently providing financial support for the development of a range of housing types including environmentally sustainable Nearly Zero Energy Building Standard (NZEB), A Rated, and social housing. Of the 8,300 residential units the Bank is funding in the Republic of Ireland, over 1,200 are social housing or Part V units.

2. Local enterprise and communities - EUR1 million boost

Following the donation of EUR1 million in emergency funding to communities impacted by COVID-19 in March, we will be injecting an additional EUR1 million to local communities and a range of organisations over the coming months.

This will be dispersed primarily through the Bank of Ireland Begin Together programme, which has a number of initiatives including the Begin Together Awards to support local enterprise in towns across the island of Ireland, the Begin Together Fund supporting local community groups and charities - which is managed through the Community Foundation for Ireland - and the Begin Together Fund for Colleagues which will further support those local not-for-profit organisations which our colleagues are personally involved with. Further details will be announced in July.

3. COVID-19 support teams and resources for customers impacted by the pandemic

Bank of Ireland has specialist teams and a dedicated COVID-19 Hub to support customers who are concerned about being able to return to full repayments at the end their payment break. The Bank encourages any customer to contact us as soon as possible if they are concerned about the return to making loan repayments.

Bank of Ireland had issued over 50% of all business loans under the SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme since launch in March. The Bank also stands ready to facilitate loans through the new COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme as soon as it is launched.

We have deployed a sectoral approach to supporting business customers. We are proactively contacting customers within particularly vulnerable sectors to assess how we can help. Our Business Banking Sectors team is also supporting customers with guidance and advice including a webinar series Moving Forward to a New Normal which shares insights from our industry sector specialists and external panellists.

Speaking today, Bank of Ireland Chief Executive Francesca McDonagh said:

'We all have our part to play in kick-starting Ireland's economy - businesses, banks, and the Government. Through the lockdown, we took immediate steps to support our customers and the national effort. Now, as the country moves to recovery, we're focussed on practical initiatives that can help Ireland to 'reboot'.

'Homebuilding, green investment, and local enterprises and not-for-profit groups will all play a big part in helping our economy and our communities reboot. The measures we're announcing today are designed to strongly support recovery.

'The Irish economy is reopening faster than originally planned, which is a very welcome development. Getting back up and running means many businesses will need to access funding. However when we look at the overall size of Irish government support for businesses compared to the UK and other European countries, it's relatively low.

'Drawdowns from existing Irish government schemes - when adjusted to take account of the difference in the size of our economy - is at just 2% of UK volumes. This highlights the very significant difference in approach between the two jurisdictions and puts Irish businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

'For businesses across Ireland, loan payment breaks from the banks and government wage subsidy schemes have cushioned the impact so far. Now, however, we are heading into a critical period and we need the new Government to prioritise the new COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support Irish SMEs as a matter of national urgency.

'It is critical that the Scheme works in a way that is as simple, straightforward, and user-friendly as possible - for both SME customers to get access to funding, and for banks to implement. Banks will be able to respond more quickly to customers if the scheme is constructed in a way that recognises that time is of the essence in helping our SME community. It is vital that the scheme is constructed in a way that is simple for our customers to apply for and to understand. This is something we have seen in other markets and it will be a very important element in the success of the Scheme in Ireland.

'Bank of Ireland has been supporting customers for over 235 years and as the country emerges from this pandemic, we are committed to doing all we can to support the national effort and support SMEs through the new COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.'

(C) 2020 Electronic News Publishing, source ENP Newswire

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