Concern at bank charges - Irwin

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and DAERA Committee member William Irwin MLA says that concerns have been raised with him by farmers in relation to bank margins and fees.

Mr Irwin said he has been contacted by a number of hard pressed farmers who believe they are being overcharged by banks in NI.

He stated that most farming sections in NI have been making loses over these last two years. The dairy sector has been hit hard recently with farm gate prices returning well below the cost of production but the sector has a large level of borrowing given the investment farmers made in recent years.

Given the level of investment and the cost of borrowing to manage cash flow in what has been a difficult time. He has spoken to farm advisors this week who are very concerned at the level of pressure on farm businesses.

He added: “Banks in NI are reported to be charging several percent above the base rate compared to other lending institutes in Great Britain which is unjustifiable. Another bug bear of mine is the cost of overdraft renewal fees, I know one farmer who was charged £500 for what was in his word an administration process.

“I realise that banks have done a lot under the current circumstances but I believe they can and must do more to help farmers through probably the worst situation they have faced in a lifetime.

“Charging high fees and interest rates only damages a sector which is vital to the future economy of Northern Ireland,” he concluded.