Ulster Bank Needs A Contingency Plan For Small Businesses Says Consumer Council
Thursday 5 July 2012
Ulster Bank needs a contingency plan for small businesses in Northern Ireland according to Consumer Council CEO, Antoinette McKeown who made the comments during an appearance before the Enterprise, Trade and Investment (ETI) Committee at Stormont today.
“Ulster Bank must put in place contingency plans for small businesses that are now coming under severe pressure as the technical and backlog issues continue in the bank.”
“It was interesting to hear that small business owners who are contacting the bank directly with specific problems are being dealt with on a case by case basis with branch relationship managers - but this is not sufficient.”
“At the ETI Committee, the Consumer Council once again raised the issue of the lack of consistency in branches in how they deal with customers, both private and commercial. We have called on the Ulster Bank to give their staff a clear protocol and process in how to deal with customers, yet this has not been forthcoming. The information issued for commercial customers in particular, has been severely lacking.”
“One of the case studies we provided to MLAs at the ETI Committee concerned a small business owner who is an Ulster Bank customer. She has been unable to check her account or receive and make payments and hence pay her suppliers. Therefore she has been left without valuable products that she needs. This is having a very worrying effect on her and her business. She also has employees to pay. She has been forced to pay in cash for what little supplies she can get in the short term to get her business running.”
“This story is representative of many stories that the Consumer Council has heard and we have a real concern that it is only those business owners who are contacting us, politicians or the media who are getting the help they need.”
“As was pointed out at the Committee meeting by MLAs, we are in challenging economic times and putting small businesses under such additional pressure is not helping. Over 90 per cent of businesses here employ less than ten people and cash flow is a big issue for many.”
“During Ulster Bank’s presentation at the ETI Committee we did not receive any indication that they were putting a plan in place. We are pleased to see that a provisional date for some degree of restoration of accounts but small businesses and other customers of the bank need a more definite plan that will inform, advise and reassure them in the coming weeks.”
- Consumer Council media contact: Pauline Gordon, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or 079 0997 2704 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
- For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk
- Ulster Bank Updated Factsheet 5 July, 2012 - 191.7KB PDF Document