Labour shortages ‘a bigger issue’ than Brexit – Ulster Bank CEO

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Labour shortages ‘a bigger issue’ than Brexit – Ulster Bank CEO


Ulster Bank CEO Jane Howard
Ulster Bank CEO Jane Howard

A shortage of workers is proving to be a bigger issue than Brexit for many companies.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee, Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard said, while Brexit is top of mind for a number of customers, “for many of our business customers, they tell us that labour shortages…is a bigger issue.”

The shortage is across both skilled and unskilled workers, Ms Howard added.

The bank is ready to support customers impacted by Brexit “where additional resources and guarantees are required in respect of customs and tariffs.”

On the subject of non-performing loans, Ms Howard said the bank must do more to reduce its bad loans, as it comes under pressure from regulators. Capital requirements mean the bank will need to increase the level of funds it holds over the coming years.

“Those requirements mean that over the coming years we will need to increase the capital we hold up to a point where we will have to hold enough capital for the full amount of the loan,” Ms Howard said.

“That capital is then tied up and we cannot use it to support loan growth which would contribute to the Irish economy.”

The bank is working with customers who are in arrears “so that as many customers as possible can remain in their home and paying off their mortgage,” Ms Howard, who is appearing in her first Oireachtas Committee, said.

“We have found that when customers work with us, a solution can be found for four out of five, meaning they can remain in their home.”

The bank has also made “significant progress” in addressing the tracker mortgage scandal.

“We have made redress and compensation payments to all Tracker Mortgage Examination customers for whom we have contact details.”

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The bank does not anticipate any new or additional impacted groupings of tracker customers to emerge.

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