RBS plans to axe 200 jobs amid branch closures

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has drawn up plans to axe 200 jobs as it cuts back its branch network.

RBS said branch transactions have fallen 43% since 2010. Picture: John Devlin
RBS said branch transactions have fallen 43% since 2010. Picture: John Devlin

The bank intends to shed clerical roles in Scotland, Wales or south-west England, which will also lead to a number of branch closures.

RBS, which is 73 per cent owned by the taxpayer, has cut around 1,350 posts out of a workforce of 12,000 staff in its branch network since mid-March.

The move is part of the bank’s plans to slim down from a sprawling international bank to a UK-focused lender. The lender currently operates 1,093 RBS and NatWest branches.

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RBS said its strategy reflects the changing nature of how customers use banks. It said branch transactions have fallen by 43 per cent since 2010, while digital usage has jumped by 400 per cent over the same period.

The lender said: “We review our branch network regularly to make sure the services we provide are appropriate for each local community, based on customer usage and other ways to bank in the local area.

“Where we do have to make the difficult decision to close a branch we will always tell our staff and customers first.”

However, customer service standards at the group’s branches have come under the spotlight recently.

RBS came bottom of customer satisfaction in a poll this year by consumer body Which?, while in September customers also voted RBS the worst British bank for a second year in a row in a separate survey by price comparison website uSwitch.

Group chief executive Ross McEwan said at last week’s annual meeting that the “heaviest restructuring” of the bank will be behind it by the end of the year as it presses ahead with cost-cutting plans.

RBS reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of £968 million last month – more than double last year’s figure of £459m.

The loss reflects the impact of its £1.2 billion payment last month to the Treasury to buy out a crucial part of its £45bn bailout when it was saved from collapse in 2008.

This comes after the bank racked up its eighth consecutive year of annual losses and delayed prospects of a dividend payout in February.

However, McEwan saw his total annual pay package double to £3.8m as it included long-term incentive payouts for the first time.

RBS has also warned of a greater-than-expected hit from plans to spin off its Williams & Glyn arm.

The group said there was a “significant risk” that it would not meet the deadline to separate the business by the end of next year.