4th July 2016

Borrowing across Northern Ireland – Q4 2015

Latest Northern Ireland borrowing details for individuals and businesses are available for more than 9,000 postcode sectors.  The industry-wide data is compiled jointly by the BBA and the Council for Mortgage Lenders and complements existing publication of data for postcode sectors in Great Britain.  Participating lenders also publish their own figures on their websites.

Notes to editors

1. Which lenders are included?

Participating lenders in the personal loan datasets are Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank, First Trust Bank, Ulster Bank, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Santander UK, Clydesdale and Nationwide Building Society.

Participating lenders in the SME lending datasets are Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank, First Trust Bank, Ulster Bank, Barclays, HSBC, RBS Group and Santander UK.

Aggregated data are published by the BBA (SME lending and Personal loans) and CML (mortgages) on their respective websites.

Comparable data are also published by individual lenders on their respective websites.

Bank of Ireland – https://boini.bankofireland.com/about-boi-group/financial-news/ni-postcode-lending-data/
Danske Bank – https://www.danskebank.co.uk/en-gb/About-the-bank/Pages/postcode-lending.aspx
First Trust Bank – http://personal.firsttrustbank.co.uk/help-and-guidance/important-information/postcode-lending-data
Ulster Bank – http://group.ulsterbank.com/about-us/company-overview/key-facts.ashx
Barclays – http://www.barclays.com/news.html
HSBC – www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/about-us/sustainability/postcode-lending-data
Nationwide Building Society – www.nationwide.co.uk/
RBS – www.rbs.com/
Santander – www.aboutsantander.co.uk/

2. Protecting customer confidentiality

The BBA and CML have taken care to strike a balance between the desire for transparency and the need to protect customer confidentiality. To protect the privacy of business and personal customers, a set of parameters were agreed with Government to ensure customer confidentiality is protected and that there is compliance with data privacy rules. This inevitably results in some postcode sectors being redacted.

Business groups have stressed that great care must be taken to ensure that the borrowing of commercial customers cannot be identified.

3. What do borrowing levels indicate?

Stock levels are not equivalent to current demand or new borrowing – they reflect drawn-down amounts from agreed borrowing facilities.  They will comprise borrowing agreements made in the past and new agreements, less any partial or full repayments or borrowing written off.

The postcode attributed to a personal loan is determined by the correspondence address of the applicant. The postcode attributed to SME lending is derived from the business’s primary trading location.

Borrowing is not a direct indication of the financial health of borrowers.  Levels will reflect the demographic or characteristic make-up of a sector and its population.

For example, predominantly residential sectors will be unlikely to see high levels of SME borrowing. Predominantly commercial or industrial areas will be unlikely to see high levels of mortgages or personal loans.

4. What is being reported?

The BBA and CML report across three separate product streams: SME lending, residential mortgages and unsecured personal loans. All figures reflect the total amount of borrowing outstanding on customer accounts.

This figure will fluctuate over time for a number of reasons including:

  • new borrowing agreements
  • customers repayments, either in part or in full
  • existing agreements mature
  • borrowers moving location
  • borrowers switching into or out of alternative finance products
  • borrowers switching to a different lender

5. What is a sector postcode?

This exercise centres on the postal addresses represented by Royal Mail postcodes.  The postal address is a sorting and routing instruction to Royal Mail staff.

They are made up of several components, as follows:

The Royal Mail periodically reviews and makes changes to its postcodes, for example, when there are new homes or businesses in a development area, new or re-routed roads or a lack of codes for extra capacity.

The data published here reflects borrowing in ‘live’ postcodes according to the latest list published by the Royal Mail, and is therefore an up-to-date picture of its geographic distribution across Northern Ireland. There are 267 postcode sectors and 78 postcodes areas in Northern Ireland.

There are a number of alternative geographical classifications, for example county, local authorities or parliamentary constituencies, but these do not necessarily directly map across to sector postcodes.

6. Why are some figures not available?

One of the key roles played by the BBA and CML has been to ensure that participating lenders report as fully and as meaningfully as possible, whilst also adhering to all relevant data privacy, competition and other laws. As highlighted above, a major consideration and necessary requirement has been to maintain customer confidentiality.

A general level of protection for customers is afforded by publishing postcode figures six months in arrears. This is a deliberate part of the design of this exercise, and will be an on-going feature.

To protect customer confidentiality the BBA and CML have agreed filters with Government to ensure the protection of individual customers and their confidential data. Therefore, individual borrowing data should not be imputable directly, or in conjunction with other third party data.

Borrowing amounts outstanding for a postcode sector are not disclosed if;

  • There are fewer than 10 borrowers active in the postcode sector, or
  • Borrowing within the postcode sector is highly concentrated amongst a small number of borrowers.

These filters are applied to the data in the hierarchical order above. When applied to the aggregate dataset, the total value of borrowing redacted is relatively small: such borrowing accounts for under 1 per cent of lending across all three work streams.
In the BBA and CML aggregate datasets, the BBA and CML take further steps to protect against disclosure in redacted postcode sectors as the data is aggregated.

To protect against inadvertent disclosure, the BBA/ CML only publish the sum of all lenders where either no lenders have been required to redact their totals or where there are 2 or more lender redactions in the sector.  If either one or two lenders are required to redact their sector total (as in the example above), BBA / CML will only publish the sum of the publishable lenders’ data.

The effect of the redaction filters may vary over time, which can make direct comparisons from quarter to quarter for some postcode sectors difficult. The BBA and CML are continually looking at ways to make the analysis of this data more informative. However, all data that is not disclosed at postcode sector level as a result of these filters is included in the (higher) postcode area level totals to make the regional and postcode area level comparisons as meaningful as possible.

The aggregated data shows NIL for any postcode sector where there is no lending by the banks in this exercise and “0” where there is lending but the data has been redacted to preserve confidentiality.

7. What is the market coverage of this initiative?

As at end – Q4 2015

SME borrowing


Personal Loans

Publishable at postcode sector level (£bn)




Publishable only at postcode area level (£bn)




of which: Lending in sectors redacted to preserve confidentiality (£bn)




of which: Other lending which cannot be allocated at sector level, but included at Area level (£ bn)




Total lending publishable (£ bn)




Number of sectors publishable at sector postcode level




Number of sectors redacted to preserve customer confidentiality




8. Other postcode lending data

The BBA also publishes aggregated data for SME lending and unsecured personal loans in Great Britain on its website at http://www.bba.org.uk/statistics/postcode-lending

The CML also publishes aggregated data for mortgage lending in Great Britain on its website at www.cml.org.uk/

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