Ulster Bank announces new support programme for consumers in financial difficulty

Ulster Bank announces new support programme for consumers in financial difficulty

Ulster Bank has today announced it will further extend its programme of support for consumers across Northern Ireland facing financial difficulties with a series of new measures. The programme’s new commitments include:

* £300,000 funding over two years to support the provision of debt advice in Northern Ireland*
* Ulster Bank staff available for secondment in support of debt advice agency work
* Specially trained ‘MoneySense’ advisers to be made available in all Ulster Bank’s 92 branches offering free, impartial financial guidance to everyone
* Ulster Bank customers in financial difficulty to be offered additional flexibility and financial support including capital repayment holidays and interest roll-ups for mortgage customers

Ulster Bank said that the measures announced today are intended to ease pressure on hard-pressed Northern Ireland consumers.

According to Mike Bamber, Chief Executive Retail Markets at Ulster Bank Group, “Many consumers across Northern Ireland are facing significant financial anxiety and we are committed to ensuring that Ulster Bank plays a leading role in providing support to these people in such difficult times”.

“We have a clear responsibility to respond to the needs of customers and to provide them with practical advice including budgeting and money management skills which will stay with them all their lives. We will work with each customer to understand their individual circumstances and to determine which options may best help their specific situation.” said Mr Bamber.

Mr Bamber continued, “In recognition of the added pressures that debt agencies are facing, we are committing £300,000 of financial support over the next two years towards the provision of debt advice in Northern Ireland. We will also shortly be installing specially trained MoneySense advisors in each of our 92 branches across Northern Ireland.”

From early March 2009, Ulster Bank’s MoneySense advisers will be on hand to impart guidance to consumers across the region on a wide range of money management questions, including;

* Guidance on basic budgets and budgeting skills
* Help with prioritising outgoings and expenses
* General, impartial guidance on how financial products work

The bank’s commitment to providing specially trained financial advisers in all of its branches is part of its wider commitment to financial education. It marks the extension of its MoneySense for Schools programme launched last year, by introducing a new programme entitled MoneySense for Adults. The progamme, which will be available in March, will provide free, online tools and information resources for all consumers.

Finally, Mr Bamber said: “We are committed to further extending this programme of support over the coming weeks and months, including introducing specially developed products to meet consumer needs in the current environment.”

Today’s measures follow previous Ulster Bank commitments to support its customers and help alleviate the financial difficulties and pressures they may be facing, including commitments regarding small business overdrafts and interest rates, the further roll out of the Ulster Bank’s Momentum Mortgage and provision of a £100 million fund for first time buyers, commitments on personal loan and overdraft rates and a reaffirmation of the Ulster Bank/RBS commitment on actions for mortgage repossession.

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