herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Bank cash runs out for thousands awaiting salaries

FURIOUS banking customers are stranded without full salary or social welfare payments until next week. The biggest banking IT failure the country has witnessed has delayed vital payments made via Ulster Bank for a third day.

Public and private employees as well as social welfare recipients are enraged that they are still in the dark about when they could expect their payments.

Over 100,000 banking customers and thousands more who are paid through Ulster Bank will have to wait until Monday at the earliest before the major technology glitch is fixed.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that up to 30,000 people on social welfare have been hit, even though her Department has issued payments.

Minister Burton said that it was a matter of absolute urgency that the problem be resolved - particularly for older people and those relying on welfare.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton today described the problem as “an appalling situation”.

“I think the bank has been remarkably silent. The customers deserve an explanation about what is happening and that is where the public frustration is growing.”

Una Dillon, of the Irish Payment Services Organisation, said the immediate outlook was “negative” for customers.

“Unfortunately while we were expecting a more positive update, this morning's update is that actually they are now working from a two-day backlog,” she said.

“They have cleared payments out of Ulster Bank accounts from June 19, but Thursday and Friday's payments have not actually been made.”

The problem is spread across the RBS network and affected customers of NatWest and Ulster Bank in the UK.

However, Ulster Bank clients in Ireland were frustrated as NatWest claimed this morning to have fixed its own issues.

Ulster Bank has moved to assure customers that there was no security break or cyber attack and that it was a technical difficulty that caused problems.

“There are definitely no concerns of a malicious nature,” a spokesman said.

“The main priority is getting it fixed at this stage and we will be updating customers throughout the day.”

The bank will keep open approximately 80 branches, including 13 in Dublin, three in Cork and three in Limerick until 7pm this evening to assist its customers.

A further 60 branches will be open tomorrow morning.

Ulster Bank has pledged to refund any customers in case of charges incurred or interest lost and if a mortgage repayment can't be made.



Salary

The technical issue, which began earlier this week, is delaying by one day payments including salary and social welfare lodgements showing up in the accounts.

Customers will be allowed to withdraw a sum of money from the bank, in person with photographic ID.

Anyone who was paid their salary or social security payment on Wednesday June 20 and needs to access money will be entitled to do so.

Ulster Bank will in effect provide customers with a free overdraft in lieu of their payments.

Approximately 40,000 HSE staff including ambulance drivers, nurses and home helps were left without wages yesterday.

The Department of Social Protection has also confirmed that 29,100 payments it makes every week have been affected.

And workers in private-sector firms were also affected. For many, the issue was exasperated as their employer's paid the salary on the second last Friday of the month – making it five weeks since they were last paid.

Ulster Bank said its automated teller machine (ATM) services will be fully operational over the weekend.

The glitch did not only affect Ulster Bank customers, but also those whose employer uses an Ulster account to distribute wages to the workers' accounts.

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