Royal Bank of Scotland to axe 600 jobs and close 32 branches

Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a sharp increase in first quarter losses.

Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a sharp increase in first quarter losses. - Credit: PA

Around 600 jobs are being axed and 32 branches closed at Royal Bank of Scotland in the latest jobs cull at the state-backed lender.

The job losses will impact its retail banking division, with around 200 roles going across London and the South East and almost 400 being cut in the Midlands, East and the North, according to trade union Unite.

Unite said the job cuts come as 32 RBS branches are being shut, with many more seeing their opening hours reduced.

The union said 220 branches are changing their opening hours across the North, while 94 are seeing hours reduced in the Midlands and East.

Lyn Turner, Unite regional officer, said: “With job losses across the country and surviving branches on reduced hours, there’s no doubt this latest round of cuts will hurt the bank’s customers as well as our members.

“With every branch closure, NatWest is slamming its doors on another community, dangerously undermining the bank’s long-term future.”

RBS was not immediately available for comment.

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Its latest job losses mean RBS has axed 1,500 roles so far this year as it looks to trim costs and stem losses.

The taxpayer-backed lender racked up its eighth year in a row of annual losses in 2015, posting a deficit of £2 billion.

As well as its efforts to make savings, RBS is also shutting branches as more people bank online - a trend changing the entire UK retail banking industry.

The jobs gloom comes after RBS revealed in February that chief executive Ross McEwan saw his annual pay package double to £3.8 million last year thanks to long-term incentive share payouts.

But he did not take a £1 million “role-based” incentive for the second year in a row and the bank cut its overall bonus pool by 11% to £373 million for 2015.

Mr McEwan is struggling to turn around the bank’s fortunes since its £45.5 billion bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

It remains 73% owned by the Government and has yet to pay a dividend to shareholders since its part-nationalisation.

The group said on reporting its results in February that it was likely dividends would not be paid until 2017 at the earliest.

A spokesperson for RBS Group subsidiary Natwest said the company couldn’t confirm any numbers or say what banks were closing.

“Banking has changed significantly over the last few years and the way our customers want to interact with us is also changing,” she said.

“We have to continually adapt to meet our customers’ needs and to ensure we remain viable and relevant both now and in the future. We review our branch network regularly to make sure the services we provide are appropriate for each local community, based on our customers’ 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. Where there are job cuts, this is clearly difficult news for staff affected. We are doing everything we can to support them, including seeking redeployment opportunities wherever possible and ensuring that compulsory redundancies are kept to a minimum.”