ULSTER Bank is putting back its first closure deadline in a move to ensure those on social welfare do not lose out on higher payments announced in the Budget, such as a double child benefit payment.
The first batch of account holders had a deadline of this coming weekend to close their accounts and find a new provider.
But they will now have until Friday, November 4, to get new banking arrangements in place.
The bank had planned to freeze the accounts of thousands of customers from this weekend.
These are people who were told in April and May that they had six months to shut their account and switch to a new bank, credit union or An Post.
It comes after the bank held another session with advocates for personal customers in vulnerable situations and advocates for older customers.
The bank said that of those who received their first formal notification in April and May, already almost two thirds have either closed, or wound down their current account, or left it dormant.
This means around a third of those told to close their accounts have yet to do so.
Ulster Bank said it is continuously reaching out to the remaining one third of these customers and most are reporting that they have opened a new account elsewhere and are in the process of moving their payments to their new account.
The bank said 75pc of Ulster Bank personal current account customers in receipt of social protection payments have already taken action on their accounts.
“In this context, following the Government Budget announcements on additional social protection payments, we have consulted with key stakeholders to ensure that our withdrawal plans for current and deposit accounts do not cause unnecessary worry or complexity for our customers in receipt of these important one off/ additional payments,” the bank said.
One of the key payments impacting a majority of customer is the double child benefit payment, which is expected to be made by Tuesday November 1.
The bank said it was due to freeze accounts from this Saturday for those who were warned about this already. Some 30 days later these accounts were due to be closed.
But it has now decided to move that process to November 4.
Ulster Bank Chief Executive Jane Howard urged any customer who needs more support, to contact the bank on 0818 210 260, or 00353 1804 7475 if calling from abroad, or 1800 656 001 if they have vulnerabilities.
“As we move to this critical point, I reiterate our commitment to withdraw on a phased and orderly basis and today’s announcement is in line with this commitment.
“We have worked very closely with the Department of Social Protection and others and thanks to our combined efforts the number of Ulster Bank personal current accounts in receipt of a social protection payment has reduced by over 75pc this year, and this is before any customer reached the end of their notice period.”
She said this was good progress however, some customers in receipt of these payments are still banking with Ulster Bank.