In Brief

RBS to cut 162 branches and 792 jobs

Move comes days after taxpayer-owned bank announced 206% rise in profits

Royal Bank of Scotland is to close 162 branches across England and Wales, with the loss of almost 800 jobs, following a controversial review of its high street network.

While previous branch closures have been blamed on the rise of online banking, the latest move has been based on its decision not to sell its Williams & Glynn business.

RBS, which also owns NatWest, said by not creating the challenger bank, as it had once been required to do by regulators, it was removing geographical duplication in its branch network.

It means the bank, which is still majority owned by the taxpayer following the 2008 bailout, has announced a total of 569 branch closures in just over a year.

A spokesperson for the bank said RBS customers would be able to use NatWest branches in England and Wales for “everyday banking needs”

Yet the timing of announcement has been widely criticised, coming just days after RBS reported a 206% rise in profits to £792m in the first quarter of the year, The Independent reports.

Criticising the “shambolically poor management” of its Williams & Glyn business, the Unite union’s national officer, Rob MacGregor, questioned the move: “How does a taxpayer-funded institution spend £1.8bn on a failed IT project and in the next breath demolish the much needed local bank branches?”

It follows a further round of branch closures confirmed by Lloyds just a week before it announced a surge in UK profits – “attracting criticism from a business group which claimed it could easily afford to give its members better access to their money on the ground”, says Sky News.

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