Start Mortgages chief executive David Ingram: is not currently advertising its mortgage rates online and last week its website was down for maintenance

Subprime lender Start Mortgages, which is a frequent visitor to the courts to get repossession orders, has seen its profits plunge by 44%. Auditors for the last remaining non-prime lender in the Irish market have referred to an uncertainty about its future funding position.

The company, whose ultimate parent is Investec Plc, describes itself as a specialist mortgage provider but this model has come under increasing pressure in Ireland and abroad.

The company's "corporate services fee income'', which arises from lending through three subsidiaries, plummeted from €21.7m to €11.6m during the year to the end of March. The figures were somewhat skewed because the previous financial period was over 16 months.

The accounts indicate the directors of Start, among them chief executive David Ingram, believe Investec will continue to support the company and its business. The company says it monitors arrears among its customers and takes "remedial'' action to resolve problems as early as possible.

The company is not currently advertising its mortgage rates online and last week its website was down for maintenance. The auditors of the company, KPMG, insert an "emphasis of matter'' note in the accounts which deals with Start's access to funding.

The auditors say the business can be regarded as a going concern, but add the following caveat: "This is dependent on the continued availability of funding facilities from Investec Plc and its subsidiaries or the ability of the company to generate liquidity through other sources'." The accounts are not qualified.

The company employs 67 people, which is down from 104 in the previous financial period. Start has more than halved its salary and pension bill from €10.6m to €5.2m.

The scale of the business is clear in that it had debtors amounting to €27.5m in the period, with this money owed through a range of subsidiaries.

Start has in recent months switched its focus to the prime lending market as mainstream lenders have started to retrench and restrict credit.

The move effectively put an end to subprime mortgages in Ireland, as Start was the only survivor of a group of six lenders which had set up in the last few years to serve borrowers with poor credit histories or irregular incomes who could not get loans from ordinary banks and building societies.

Springboard Mortgages, Irish Life & Permanent's subprime vehicle, stopped accepting new applications in April.

The others – GE Money, Nua, Fresh and Stepstone – all closed for business in 2008 as funding lines dried up and financial backing disappeared.