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Business News

RBS to axe 1,400 jobs in latest round of redundancies


Royal Bank of Scotland announced today that it is cutting 1,400 jobs in the latest round of redundancies since it was bailed out by the taxpayer.

Edinburgh-based RBS said the positions would be axed over the next two years as part of plans to restructure its retail head office functions in the UK. It said "customer-facing" staff would not be affected.

The beleaguered bank, 81 per cent owned by the state, has already slashed thousands of jobs since it was rescued at the height of the financial crisis.

More than 40 per cent of staff affected are based in Edinburgh and the vast majority of the remainder in London, with some in smaller centres such as Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

Around 700 staff across the country were being told today that their jobs were under threat, in the first phase of the cuts.

The changes affect support staff for the bank's retail arm including those working in communications, marketing and customer analytics.

RBS says it is refocusing resources on "things that matter most" to customers with branch refurbishments and investment in mobile and online services.

Dominic Hook of the Unite union said: "This is brutal and irresponsible behaviour from RBS which is almost entirely owned by the taxpayer. It is high time that the banks took social responsibilities seriously."

He said that with the bank returning to profit after it made £826 million in the first quarter of the year, there was no business case "for cutting jobs so drastically".

"RBS argues that the restructure will make the bank more customer-focused but a bank can't be more customer-focused with 1,400 fewer staff.

"Unite is demanding no compulsory redundancies and we expect this state-owned bank to do everything to ensure this is the case."

Unite said two departments providing support to frontline staff were being cut by 80 per cent. It said that since 2008 the bank had cut more than 30,000 employees.

Ross McEwan, chief executive of the bank's UK retail arm, said: "To serve our customers well we have to ensure that our resources are focused on the things that matter most to them.

"That is why we are investing £700 million in the next three years in new and improving services.

"Regrettably, we can only do that by restructuring the way we work in head office so that every effort is concentrated on supporting our customers and the frontline staff that serve them.

"This is clearly difficult news for our staff and we will do everything we can to support them, including seeking redeployment opportunities wherever possible to ensure compulsory redundancies are a last resort."

Chairman Sir Philip Hampton warned earlier this week at the company's annual general meeting that changes were needed to put the business "in the right shape" which could mean "further impacts on employees".

The bank has faced anger over £607 million bonuses for executives amid annual losses of £5.2 billion, though it recently swung back into the black with quarterly profits of £826 million.

It has been dogged by a succession of problems incuding a £390 million settlement for rate-fixing, a £1.1 billion provision for mis-selling and a £175 million IT fiasco.

Today's announcement comes in the wake of a number of other banks slashing UK staff.

Unite said that, since the beginning of the year RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds have announced plans to slash around 6,900 jobs.

"The industry almost caused the economy to implode in 2008 and now it is contributing to a jobs crisis," said Mr Hook.

Meanwhile, HSBC is reportedly now looking at further cost-cutting measures that could see up to 14,000 more roles go across its global business.