Royal Bank under fire over incentive scheme

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LABOUR protested in the Commons yesterday about reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland has introduced a staff incentive scheme designed to 'milk every penny' from its customers.

Nigel Griffiths, the opposition consumer affairs spokesman, said managers and staff were being paid a pounds 400 bonus if they ensured that customers were charged for any letters sent, recalled standing orders, referrals of cheques from overdrawn accounts, letters regarding accounts in the red, and bank giro credits.

He said the scheme, called 'Your Chance to be a Winner', encouraged managers and staff to make every effort to increase income from charges for ancillary services.

'This is the last straw for many small businesses who see the banks as their number one enemy,' Mr Griffiths said. 'I am sure the Royal Bank is not alone in treating the needs of small businesses and individual customers insensitively.

'This new policy gives the lie to any claims by the bank to treat customers as individuals, and to review their needs sensitively.

'A bonus is being paid to get as much money out of customers as possible. But bank staff are not being paid a pounds 400 bonus to bring recession-hit businesses back from the brink or help small businesses meet their financial requirements.'

Mr Griffiths has tabled a Commons motion expressing concern at the incentive scheme which, he said, was designed 'to milk every penny of profit from account holders'.

The motion says 70,000 businesses failed last year, and that many of them, as well as other small businesses and individuals, were already unable to meet high bank charges.

Mr Griffiths called on the bank to reverse the policy.