Finance Minister welcomes confirmation that Ulster Bank will remain a core part of RBS.
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA, has welcomed the confirmation provided in the Government’s report on its ‘review into Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the case for a bad bank’ that Ulster Bank will remain a core part of the RBS.
The Minister expressed some concern at certain aspects of the announcement particularly around the implications for jobs and the local property market and committed to work with HM Treasury and Ulster Bank to satisfactorily resolve these issues.
“I had been very concerned that any decision to place Ulster Bank into a ‘Bad Bank’ would have been disastrous for our local economy and competitiveness of our local banking sector. Ulster Bank is one of our leading banks with over 30% market share and the only one of our four major players that is UK owned and is often the only one of our banks that has historically offered access to the UK Government initiatives. This is an issue I have been pressing very strongly with the Government and one I am pleased they have recognised.”
He added: “There are aspects of the announcement particularly those with possible implications for jobs and the local property market that clarification and certainty is required on. I will continue to engage with the Bank and the Government on all of these matters as the review of the Ulster Bank announced today is undertaken. This review will provide us with an important opportunity to shape Ulster Bank to ensure that it can sustainably meet the needs of the Northern Ireland economy going forward.”
Ritchie welcomes RBS commitment to Ulster Bank
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) has supported Royal Bank of Scotland’s renewed commitment to Ulster Bank but warned that the industry still needs to face up to the real challenges that lie ahead.
Speaking following the release of the Treasury and PRA commissioned report into the bank Ms Ritchie said: “I am glad that the future of Ulster Bank in Ireland is now on a more secure footing and that the bank can move on to deal with other priorities.
“There remain a number of troubling issues to come out of this report, issues not just for Ulster Bank but for the whole sector. Worryingly RBS, and to an even greater degree Ulster Bank, still seem to be exposed to heavy losses and I would call for reassurances that they won’t shed further jobs across Ireland.
“The whole banking sector must face up to the fact that the public have largely lost faith in the banks and they no longer see them as working in the public interest. If they are to restore that trust RBS and Ulster Bank must now live up to their promise of prioritising the real economy and working for the consumer rather than the speculative elements that typified the worst of the casino culture in banking.
“We should not forget that this bank is still 81 per cent owned by the public and without public support during the financial crash there would probably no longer be an RBS.
“In return we should expect our banks to work for our people. One essential way of renewing this relationship is for the banks to focus on increasing lending to our small and medium-sized businesses who are still finding it increasingly difficult to access finance. It is worrying that today’s report states that RBS are still refusing three out of four lending requests from such businesses.
“Responsible lending to such businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy, combined with a renewed focus on banking that works for the consumer can begin to reform the damaged relationship between the banks and the rest of society.”