Bank jobs threat

Lloyds TSB Bank, Market Street, Wigan
Lloyds TSB Bank, Market Street, Wigan

DOZENS of Wigan jobs were in doubt today after a major bank confirmed plans to close 200 branches nationwide.

Lloyds Banking Group is to slash around 9,000 jobs as part of a new strategy it claims will improve efficiency and customer service.

This means the chain could shut numerous branches across the borough as it has adopted a policy to dispose of urban sites first.

These include jobs being threatened at the branches on Market Street in the town centre, Hindley, Standish and Spinning Gate in Leigh.

It comes as the group announced a 41 per cent rise in underlying profits.

This is despite it also setting aside another £900m to cover possible payouts for the PPI mis-selling scandal which has cost it £11.3bn so far. Other fines have reached £200m.

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said: “The business is performing strongly and we are well positioned to continue to support and benefit from UK economic growth.”

The latest losses represent about 10 per cent of the company’s workforce will come on top of 43,000 cuts made since 2008.

But it will be investing £1bn in digital technology over the next three years in a bid to encourage customers to use mobile banking and online banking.

Digital banking transactions are now said to be worth almost £1bn per day.

And in light of the branch closures, the group say it will be opening 50 new ones, bringing the overall closure number to 150 out of its network of 2,250.

Lloyds, which is 25 per cent owned by the taxpayer after being rescued during the financial crisis, has guaranteed that customers will be able to continue to have a “useable branch” within five miles of their home.

Mr Horta-Osorio added: “Over the last three years the successful delivery of our strategy has ensured that we have become a safe, highly efficient, UK-focused retail and commercial bank.

“The next phase of our strategy will use these strong foundations as a basis for meeting the rapidly-changing needs of our customers, and sets out how we will grow the business in a way that will deliver increasing and sustainable returns for our shareholders.”

Shares fell 1.8 per cent after the European Banking Authority’s results revealed that the bank only narrowly passed its “stress test”.