Ulster Bank has lent over £215million in Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) to Northern Ireland businesses, it reveals today as it says it is now firmly focused on supporting economic recovery.
The bank’s Head of Northern Ireland, Mark Crimmins, points out that the £215m in lending to more than 7,000 businesses to date has been part of the bank’s wider effort to help firms through the immediate period of the crisis. The wider effort has also included support under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), capital repayment holidays, overdrafts and overdraft extensions.
Bounce Back Loans
He says this kind of support for thousands of customers has helped sustain businesses through the ‘lockdown’ period and protect many jobs.
However, he says that whilst Ulster Bank will continue to support customers, we are now entering the next phase of the crisis and new thinking is required. And he urges government, businesses, banks and other stakeholders to work together on this to support the recovery.
“BBLS, CBILS and other bank and government interventions have been essential lifelines for many businesses in Northern Ireland and for the economy as a whole. These supports have helped some customers to remain in business, retain employees and in many cases, where trading had to temporarily cease, to reopen. This has been a major effort by the banks, Government and other stakeholders as they collectively responded to the immediate priorities of the crisis,” he points out.
“But now we need to look towards the next phases of the crisis, quickly identify the opportunities presented to Northern Ireland but also deal with the many structural challenges that the crisis has left including overall levels of corporate indebtedness. Generally, businesses had been de-gearing before Coronavirus and whilst it was right to get funding urgently into the economy, many of our businesses have taken on additional debt which may constrain their future investment intentions. Strategic solutions to corporate indebtedness may be required,” Mr Crimmins continues.
“But the economy also needs innovative ideas and measures from all stakeholders and government. What we need is an ongoing significant discussion at NI Plc level, and very little should be off the table given the scale of the challenge. Our purpose as a banking Group is to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive. Ulster Bank is committed to helping stimulate discussion and to support with the full strength of the NatWest Group behind it,” he adds.