Bank to hire 150 Scots to chase loan arrears here
THE country's third-biggest lender plans to hire 200 new staff, including 150 in Scotland, to handle its spiralling Irish mortgage arrears crisis, the Irish Independent has learnt.
Ulster Bank won't say how many Irish customers are behind on their home loans but parent RBS has said that 13pc of its €19bn of Irish mortgage debt is in arrears.
The average Irish home loan is currently around €200,000 - suggesting a staggering 12,500 Ulster Bank home loan customers could be in trouble.
That means thousands of householders who borrowed from Ulster Bank, and in many more cases from its First Active subsidiary, who are behind on repayments will in future deal with the new Scottish staff as they try to get to grips with their financial plight.
For the rest of the bank's 100,000 Irish customers news that more of Ulster Bank's work is being outsourced to Scotland will be a reminder of this summer's appalling IT meltdown.
Around 50 new staff will be recruited in Ireland as part of the same plan.
It means the biggest recruitment drive at any bank since the financial crash will not lead to any let-up in Ulster Bank's plans to lay off staff in Ireland through a voluntary redundancy scheme announced earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for the bank confirmed the Scottish jobs plans, saying it is simply easier to hire skilled debt collection staff in Scotland.
"The Arrears Support Unit will be expanding to the UK because of ongoing difficulties in finding the number of experienced and specialist people in the Republic of Ireland within a short timeframe we want to work to."
She said all stakeholders, including staff, the Government and the Central Bank, were told about the move in advance.
Angry banking unions, however, have written to the Government and the Financial Regulator in a bid to block the initiative.
"It flies in the face of the Government's jobs policy for the financial sector. Some of the 950 Ulster Bank people being targeted for redundancy could do this. The skill set is here," Larry Broderick of the Irish Bank Officials' Associations (IBOA) said last night.
It's understood the recruitment drive is under way because Ulster Bank has come under significant pressure from the Central Bank to beef up its mortgage arrears team in recent weeks. It responded with the Scottish plans.
A spokesman for the Central Bank said it had no role in commercial decisions including where staff are based, and welcomed the decision to beef up the mortgage arrears team.
However, a spokesman did say the Irish regulator was looking closely at how Ulster currently works with staff overseas.