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The NatWest Ripple

Managing a number of NatWest group accounts for various businesses, it was plain to see the chaos caused by the bank's systems meltdown last week: Balances inaccessible, payments in and out held invisibly in the ether, online banking unavailable.Thankfully, no significant financial problems were caused in my world, though Friday was the deadline for paying last month's PAYE to HMRC and a payment which I had pre-set for Thursday now shows as having left the account today. How many businesses will have been similarly caught up, I wonder, and how will HMRC handle a mass delay in payment? Erring on the safe side I telephoned HMRC this morning to make my apologies.Overall, my clients have been fortunate, but the news reports talk of employers who couldn't pay their wage roll and of people exchanging on properties sitting outside their new homes with removals lorries, unable to obtain the keys because their completion payments weren't made. Throughout the system, cashflow - frequently tightly managed - has been interrupted. NatWest may have restored their systems now, but what will be the knock-on economic and human costs?Anna Figiel