Belfast Telegraph

'Loan-shy' banks deny blocking Northern Ireland's economic recovery

By David Torrance

Two of Northern Ireland's biggest banks have hit back at claims they have been acting as a "block" on economic recovery by not approving enough small business loans.

Giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster, Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown said the bank had around £1bn available to lend. He added: "In terms of the fundamental economy, we have been supporting those areas that are the backbone of the Northern Irish economy."

Ellvena Graham, head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, said the bank was "very much wanting" to deliver on its "promise" to lend more money to small-to-medium enterprise (SMEs).

Also giving evidence to the wide-ranging inquiry, Des Moore, director of personal and business banking at First Trust Bank, said his aim was to "work with SMEs to get them on to a sustainable footing".

Belfast Telegraph