How the banking job cuts are continuing to hit Scotland

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Are things really getting better for those working in the state-owned banks in Scotland? If the raw statistics are to be believed, the answer is – quite simply – no.

Since the government intervened in the running of RBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Northern Rock, employees of these institutions have officially been deemed public sector workers. One of the upsides of this is that the Office for National Statistics tracks exactly how many people work for these banks.

In the two years until the end of 2010, total headcount in the state-owned banks fell by 26,000. Of this, around 9,000 job cuts hit Scotland (or around a third of the total), suggesting that it's been hit disproportionately hard, despite the wholesale arms of both Lloyds and RBS being based in the City and a branch network across the UK.

Sadly, it doesn't appear to be improving much. Employment north of the border within these institutions fell by 2,400 in the first six months of 2011, and this was before the 15,000 redundancies announced by Lloyds in June started to take affect and more cuts were unveiled at RBS.

Scotland's reliance on public sector employment is well known, and the job cuts in this area are having a negative impact on the country's economy. However, redundancies in the banks are outpacing private sector shrinkage; headcount declined by 4.1% this year to the end of Q2 across the sector and by 6.6% within financial institutions.

"Scotland has lost a large proportion of the jobs cut by the nationalised banks, and we expect attrition to continue," says Dougie Adams, senior economic advisor to the Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons for pessimism, but recruiters suggest that both Lloyds and RBS are still open to hiring, albeit on a smaller scale than previously.

"Lloyds is still open to the idea of hiring contractors, but permanent recruitment has tailed off as we would expect at this point in the year," says Mike Leeman, manager of the financial services team at recruiters Bright Purple. "RBS is still hiring relatively extensively, however, across risk, compliance and accountancy."

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