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02nd July 2014

Consumer Council statement on Ulster Bank branch closures

The Consumer Council is concerned about the impact the closure of five Ulster Bank branches later this year will have on consumers, particularly those in areas where other banks have already taken the decision to close.

Rachael Cray, Head of Money Affairs at the Consumer Council said; “Our research shows that consumers want access to bank branches, with 60 per cent saying they have visited their branch in the last month and 32 per cent within the last week.

“While more consumers are using online banking and smart phone apps to make transactions, there is still a need for local access, particularly for those who are vulnerable, have a disability or are unable to use internet banking, and therefore rely on local branch services.

“Including these newly announced closures, almost 25 per cent of branches of the big four banks in NI will have closed over the last three years, and there is a need to look at what provisions are in place in the local communities affected to ensure consumers are not financially forgotten as a result.  We urge consumers to contact the bank directly with any concerns they have.” added Rachael.

“The Consumer Council is working with all banks in Northern Ireland to reinforce what consumers have told us through our research.  They must ensure that access to banking is maintained and that the needs, especially of vulnerable consumers, are considered. 

“The Consumer Council would like to hear from anyone affected at [email protected] or on 0800 121 6022, about the changes branch closures have, or will require them to make, to their banking habits.  The Consumer Council also has a factsheet on consumers’ rights and options in relation to bank branch closures and it is available at www.consumercouncil.org.uk.  Consumers can also get a free copy by contacting us on 0800 121 6022 or via facebook or twitter,” concluded Rachael.