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Alliance & Leicester to keep call centre jobs in the UK

Alliance & Leicester will today affirm its commitment to keeping call centre jobs in the UK, claiming its customers do not want confidential details of their accounts dealt with by outsourcing workers on the other side of the world.

Richard Pym, the chief executive of Alliance &Leicester, will tell the bank's annual general meeting that it has carried out research showing widespread resistance among customers to outsourcing. In a study commissioned by the former building society, 87 per cent of people said they did not want their accounts to be serviced by overseas call centres.

Alliance & Leicester is one of a handful of banks to rule out joining the escalating trend among financial services companies to transfer jobs to Asia, where the workforce is skilled but costs far less to employ.

Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Abbey National and HSBC have all begun to outsource hundreds of jobs to the Far East.

In contrast, Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS - which owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland - Nationwide building society and Alliance & Leicester have ruled out transferring jobs following concerns among the public about the security of financial data and also because creating jobs abroad is leading to a string of redundancy announcements in the UK.

Mr Pym said: "Our research shows that 87 per cent of banking customers want their calls to be answered in the British Isles, not overseas. That's why we are keeping our call centres in Britain." The bank employs 1,600 staff in its call centres based in Leicester, Ashford, Bootle, Leeds and Wigan.

Finance unions have become increasingly alarmed at the trend to outsource jobs from the UK by banks.There is also a trend among British companies to move skilled jobs abroad. Technology companies have been at the forefront, taking advantage of the highly educated middle class in India.