Quarter of banking jobs lost in UK

JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Britain's banking system is restructuring at a ferocious rate. Nearly a quarter of all jobs in the sector have gone over the past 10 years, as banking chiefs have lopped off excess branches on the high street.

Sir Brian Pitman, chief executive of Lloyds, compares this process to the shakeout that British manufacturing underwent in the early 1980s.

Lloyds Bank's takeover of Cheltenham & Gloucester building society signals the spread of the rationalisation to the building society movement.

It appals unions such as the Banking Insurance and Finance Union.

Alan Piper, assistant general secretary of Bifu, said: "The job losses are a scandal. They penalise the staff of the banks, and the branch closures penalise the customer. All this is happening while top pay increases are going up by huge amounts."

The culprits are new technology, deregulation and increasing competition.

The number of branches has plummeted by 2,500 in the past five years, while the number of automated cash dispensers has soared.

Thus the number of bank cashiers needed has fallen. The rise of telephone banking has also contributed. Pioneered by Midland Bank's First Direct, all the high street banks are now peddling their own versions. This has further diminished the need to have staff in local branches.

The Thatcher government opened the door to the shakeout by sweeping away regulations that prevented building societies and life companies from competing with banks on their own turf.

Ironically, the increasing profitability of the building societies, coupled with their historically low cost levels, has led to them either converting to become banks, or being bought up by the banks themselves.

Abbey National was the first to convert from a building society to a bank in 1989 under new legislation.

It can now raise finance cheaply on the international money markets in the same way as the banks, instead of having to pay relatively high rates of interest to savers.

The newly merged Halifax and Leeds will convert to become a bank in about two years' time, creating a huge new competitor to the banks on the high street.

Indeed, while the traditional banks have been shedding staff and branches since the late 1980s, a similar, savage shakeout is likely in the building society sector once they convert to plc status and have to answer to shareholders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent