Save Our Ulster Bank

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Ulster Bank is a key part of communities throughout Ireland.

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NatWest ‘all options are on the table’

*Update 16/10/2020* Reports in today’s Irish Times that Cerberus Capital Management is assessing the possibility of an approach for Ulster Bank’s €20.5 billion loan book is gravely concerning.

On the evening of Thursday 17th September the media reported that NatWest was considering closing down Ulster Bank. NatWest has since confirmed that all options are on the table and refused to rule out closure of the Bank. To date, there is no more information and staff and customers are operating under huge uncertainty.

Impact upon staff, customers and communities

The closure of Ulster Bank would affect, and place at risk, 2,400 direct employees of the Bank and several hundred contractors and service providers. It would also jeopardise the jobs of up to 700 Ulster Bank staff in Northern Ireland who service work in the Republic. In all, over 3,200 workers will be at risk.

Ulster Bank has approximately 1.1 million customers in the Republic of Ireland. The Bank has 88 branches all of which are at risk of closure. The closure of a branch has devastating impact on local communities and disproportionately affects small business and vulnerable customers. The World Economic Forum has called out the negative economic impact a branch closure has on low income communities1.

A number of reports234 definitively show the negative economic impact a Branch closure has on a community.

  • In Britain, on average where the last Bank in town has left, the town received £1.6 million less in lending the year after the closure

  • In the US, loans to small businesses fell by 13% post closures and the supply of mortgage also fell

In 20195 Ulster Bank committed new lending of €1.6 billion into the economy as well as €1.4 billion in new mortgages. This €3 billion of stimulus to the economy is at risk if Ulster Bank is closed. It made a before tax operating profit of €84 million in 2019 and €99 million in 2018. It has paid €3.3 billion worth of dividend back to its parent Bank, NatWest, over the last 5 years.

Ireland has been criticised for a lack of competition already a number of times6 with a market dominated by two ‘big beasts’7 in which customers loose out as a result.

Banks are needed now

The World Economic Forum has called on Banks to be a force for good in coming out of the economic downside of this pandemic. It has called for long term thinking and realisation of long-term relationships with customers over short term decision making8. Now is the time for bank to really pay back tax-payers for their support. NatWest needs to listen to this call and support the long-term future of Ulster Bank.

We believe Ulster Bank has a key role to play here in Ireland and we call on communities, businesses, customers and staff to support the campaign to ‘Save our Ulster Bank’.