Lloyds job cuts break 20,000 barrier as another 4,500 go

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The Independent Online

Lloyds Banking Group sparked renewed fury among unions yesterday after the part-nationalised bank axed another 4,500 jobs. The Unite union said the company, which is 41 per cent state owned at a cost to Britons of £20bn, had now cut more than 20,000 jobs since the taxpayer stepped in to prop up the bank during the financial crisis.

The cuts unveiled yesterday are largely among IT workers and will affect some 1,600 permanent jobs across the UK together with 1,150 temporary and contractor roles in Britain and a further 1,750 offshore contractor roles.

Unite national officer Cath Speight attacked the move, saying: "It is an absolute disgrace that Lloyds Banking Group, which is being kept alive by the taxpayer, is cutting more jobs and moving their jobs out of the UK. It is now time for the Government to step in and demand answers on behalf of taxpayers and staff. The announcement of 4,500 job cuts lets down their staff, customers and the taxpayers."

But Mark Fisher, director of operations at the bank, said the redundancies were necessary as part of bringing together the businesses of Lloyds and HBOS, which the company rescued during the financial crisis.

Mr Fisher said: "Today marks another major step in bringing our businesses together. The changes we are putting in place will give us a world-class IT operation that will benefit our customers and all our other stakeholders. We will work closely with the colleagues affected by today's announcement to help them through these changes. We have mitigated the impact on permanent staff with a significant release of temporary and contract staff."

Lloyds is in the midst of a three- year integration programme and has indicated that more than half of the necessary job cuts have been implemented. It beat analysts' expectations at the half year and returned to profit, but questions have been raised over its future given its dominant position in many retail banking markets and the decision by the Banking Commission to investigate over-concentration in the retail banking market.

Lloyds is also searching for a new chief executive after the incumbent, Eric Daniels, announced plans to step down. However, yesterday a second strongly fancied candidate was ruled out of the race. Naguib Kheraj, a former finance director of Barclays and chief executive of Cazenove, was appointed to the newly created role of chief executive of Lazard International. He will also serve as a deputy chairman of the investment banking firm and become a member of its global financial advisory management team.

The HSBC finance director, Douglas Flint, who was also fancied by city bookmakers, was ruled out when he was appointed as HSBC's chairman last month.

* The British Bankers Association has confirmed plans for a £1.5bn Business Growth Fund to fill a gap in the lending market and "provide capital for viable businesses which want to invest and grow". The idea came out of the BBA's Business Finance Taskforce, designed to address criticisms that banks were failing to support business.