Another 500 branch staff face the axe at Lloyds TSB

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Lloyds TSB, the UK's third-largest bank, is cutting 500 staff from its branch network in a move linked to the completion of the lengthy integration of the Trustee Savings Bank that it bought six years ago.

The group, which has 30,000 staff across its 2000-strong branch network, is inviting applications for 500 voluntary redundancies. No branches are to close and no particular areas had been earmarked to bear the brunt of the cutbacks.

A spokesman said Lloyds had identified the scope for additional cost cutting after wrapping up the integration of TSB earlier this summer. "We have a very good track record of handling redundancies," he added.

Analysts expect the cuts to save up to £15m annually.

Lloyds is in the middle of an ongoing efficiency programme unveiled by Peter Ellwood, the chief executive, in February last year. In its half-year results posted last month, Lloyds warned that overall staff numbers were likely to fall back in the second half of this year as it continued "the streamlining of back office processing and other efficiency programmes".

Lloyds took a £54m charge in the first-half against restructuring costs, and expects a full-year charge of about £200m. The programme is expected to achieve a payback within three years.

Rob Down, banking analyst at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, said Lloyds' integration of TSB had got off to a late start and there were still likely to be some loose ends that needed tying up. "This should not come as a great surprise, but it is unlikely to have anyone adjusting their forecasts," he said.

Lloyds has consulted with the LTU union, which represents 40,000 of its 62,000 employees. The LTU is circulating a letter to staff this morning saying that it does not foresee any difficulties in the latest cost-cutting drive.