Hester to take £2m bonus as total payouts rise by a third

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The Independent Online

Despite losses of more than £1bn last year, Royal Bank of Scotland is set to pay almost as much to senior bankers in bonuses.

The chief executive Stephen Hester confirmed yesterday that he would pick up his £2m bonus, as the bank revealed the controversial bonus pot for its bankers would be £950m. The compensation ratio for its investment bankers rose from 26 per cent to 34 per cent, despite a poor performance in 2010.

The payout angered the unions yesterday. Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said taxpayers would be "baffled" as to how the investment bankers at the part-nationalised group were rewarded so highly, despite sacking 21,000 frontline and support staff. "Because of our taxpayer funding, RBS is gradually recovering from the mess caused by their greedy bankers. Yet the Chancellor continues to tolerate the award of £950m in bonuses to the culprits, instead of ensuring our taxes do not become worthless," he said.

RBS pointed out that the bonus pool was lower than the previous year's £1.3bn, that cash bonuses were capped at £2,000 and that Stephen Hester's bonus would be paid entirely in shares.

Yet David Hillman, spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, said RBS "should not be allowed" to pay almost £1bn in bonuses. "We still have not got the balance right. The Government should put some of the excessive wealth in the financial sector to good use and avoid the worst of the cuts."

Mr Hester complained yesterday that the bank was a "political football," adding "it can feel pretty beleaguered working at RBS with external and internal pressures".