RBS gives small businesses £1.4 billion coronavirus lifeline - no major job cuts planned

More than 190,000 Royal Bank of Scotland customers have opted to take a three-month mortgage repayment holiday as a result of the Covid-19 crisis while the bank has granted some 7,400 coronavirus business interruption loans, it has emerged.

News of the Covid-19 response came as RBS staged a virtual annual shareholder meeting, ahead of its first-quarter results on Friday. Picture: Getty Images
News of the Covid-19 response came as RBS staged a virtual annual shareholder meeting, ahead of its first-quarter results on Friday. Picture: Getty Images

The Edinburgh-headquartered lender has also seen as many as 50,000 members of staff working from home each day as a result of the lockdown – three times its previous record.

On the community front, RBS has turned the conference centre at its capital headquarters into a distribution centre for food banks across Scotland, and joined with its catering partner, Baxter Storey, to give over use of its kitchens at Gogarburn to help prepare food for front-line healthcare workers.

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News of the response came as the bank staged a “virtual” annual shareholder meeting, ahead of its first-quarter results on Friday.

Chief executive Alison Rose said: “The challenge that Covid-19 presents to everyone in this country and around the world is unprecedented. Every person, family and business has been affected by the current situation and the group have been doing all we can to support our customers and the communities we serve and will continue to do so long after this first phase of response has ended.

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“Importantly, we have managed to extend this very substantial range of extra support without losing sight of the bank’s responsibility to manage risk intelligently and ensure our safety and soundness is protected.”

Chairman Sir Howard Davies told shareholders: “Delivering a speech like this from home is a novel experience for me. I was expecting to be at our usual AGM venue at the Conference Centre in Gogarburn, which, I am proud to say has been temporarily turned into a depot for donated food supplies for those in need, working in partnership with Social Bite and the Trussell Trust.

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“But then these are exceptional circumstances. Restrictions have been put on our personal freedoms and on the ability of businesses to operate. I hope you are staying safe in such difficult times.”

RBS said it has no plans for sweeping redundancies as coronavirus has put pressure on businesses across the country.

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Davies said that the group was trying to keep costs low while the crisis drags on. “At this point we are not envisaging a large redundancy programme,” he said.

RBS has also got mandates worth £3.1bn for the Covid Corporate Financing Facility - a Bank of England-backed scheme to support larger companies through the coronavirus crisis.

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