Santander axes Edinburgh and Lothian branches

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Santander Branch on Leith Walk set to close on 9th May. (Picture Credit: Graham Millar)

1270 jobs are being put at risk by the Spanish-owned bank Santander as they begin cutting 140 UK branches. 

Amongst the closures are three in Edinburgh and Lothians. Branches at Leith Walk and  Morningside Road in Edinburgh and George Street in Bathgate are all set to shut their doors permanently.

The banking giant has pointed to “the way customers are choosing to carry out their banking” as the reason for the downsizing of their banking network.

They claim: “The number of transactions carried out via Santander branches has fallen by 23% over the past three years, while transactions via digital channels have grown by 99% over the same period.”

Susan Allen, Head of Retail and Business Banking, said:

“The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. 

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes 

“We expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”

Closures

The closures will begin on April 25 this year and will continue until all 140 closures are complete with the last sites to be shut on December 29, 2019.

George Street, Bathgate will be amongst the first branches to close on April 25, followed by Leith Walk on May 9, and finally Morningside Road on December 12.

Banks all over Britain have been systematically closing down branches over recent years and this is because of many reasons, one of which Santander claims is that the vast majority of their customers are now using online banking and have little or no need to go into their local bank.

However, there are other reasons, such as financial pressure from the recession.  A house of Commons report from 2018 states that between the years of 2007 (the year the recession started) and 2017, there was a staggering 37% drop in the number of bank branches.

In addition, running a bank branch is expensive, between paying for the building and the staff, banks spend millions running these locations.

Find out if your branch is closing with the Which? Bank Branch Closure Checker

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Notice in Santander Branch on Leith Walk. (Picture credit: Graham Millar)

Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money, said:

“These closures will come as a blow for all those who rely on access to traditional banking services across the UK, at a time when branches are disappearing at a rate of more than 60 a month.

“While online banking is on the rise, a third of the country still does not use it and, as we’ve seen from a recent spate of IT failures, such systems are not infallible.”

Reaction

The closure of banks will hit some members of the public, such as old people isolated from electronic banking, more than others.

Karen Irvine, a Bathgate resident and Santander customer said:

“I tend to use the Livingston branch more anyway because I shop there more and it’s easier for parking and more convenient.

“I also don’t like using cash lines outside so would rather use Livingston’s inside.

“But I disagree that people will use online instead because I don’t think it’s safe. I do use my iPad at home to check accounts and to transfer from my own account — one to another, but I don’t use it for anything else.”

Jobs at Risk

Santander say they have consulted their trade unions on the changes and will “seek to find alternative roles for the 1270 colleague affects wherever possible.”

They expect to be able to keep on a third of those employees.

Future Branch Changes

Santander plan to spend £5 million over the next two years to refurbish 100 branches.

They say the future branch network “will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

“The refurbishments will include a range of changes with a focus on personal service, convenience and community engagement.”

Alternatives

Santander states that all current and business account holders can carry out their banking at any Post Office branch across the UK, of which there are over 11,000 locations.

Samantha Wrench, Media Realtions Manager for Santander explains that the branches closed are ones with alternative locations in close proximity, she says:

“For instance, the nearest local branch from Morningside Road 0.1 miles away — it’s actually on the same road, while the nearest local branch to Leith Walk is 1.7 miles away on Hanover Street.”

The local branch in relation to Morningside Road Ms. Wrench references is a Post Office.

According to Moneysavingsexpert.com, you can access basic banking services from your Post Office; such as depositing cheques, withdrawing cash and checking your bank balance, but there are things that you are unable to do unless you are at a bank branch location and these are:

  • Opening new products
  • Setting up standing orders
  • Reporting a lost or stolen card
  • Getting personalised advice

More information on using your Post Office.

 

 

 

 

Fat Cat Thursday: The worst day of the year?

FTSE 100 CEOs aren’t the most popular people in the UK at the best of time but coining the January 4 as Fat Cat Thursday may repulse people further.

It refers to the fact that only four days into the New Year, the majority of top bosses will have earned the average Brits’ yearly income. The average UK annual salary is £28,758 for full-time employees but some CEOs are making roughly £4.99 a minute, which means they make around 120x that of the average UK full-time worker. Although these big wigs have been facing salary cuts on an annual basis, they are still earning millions. By now (18th January 2019) the majority of CEOs will have earned £129,411 – that’s almost the price of a Lamborghini Huracan (£155,400)! To put it into further context, this is what FTSE 100 CEOs can buy roughly every four days on their salary:

Boots

Infographic by Jade du Preez for EN4News

UPDATE – Last Minute Talks At Holyrood As SNP Seal Budget Deal With Greens

Just hours before MSPs vote on the SNP budget, a deal has been struck with the Green Party for support of the government’s budget.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay spent earlier today negotiating with opposition parties in a bid to find much needed support for his budget plans, which will include major changes to tax.

Mr Mackay has said his budget would provide, “stability, sustainability and stimulus” for the Scottish economy and services.

The Green Party said they were willing to make a deal if there was, “significant amendments to the budget as it stands”.

As a minority government, the SNP needs at least one opposition party to at least abstain to get its budget plans through Holyrood.

Mr Mackay was quick to dismiss any potential deal with the Scottish Conservatives or Labour, calling Labour’s budget proposals ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems are pursuing funding for education and mental health, along with support for ferry services in the northern isles.

Leader Willie Rennie said the budget “needs to do more to meet the long-term needs of the economy”.

Currently Scotland has three income tax bands – a 20p basic rate, a 40p higher rate beginning at £43,001 and a 45p additional rate for earnings over £150,000.

Mr Mackay has suggested redrawing the system by adding a 19p “starter” rate and a 21p intermediate rate, while adding 1p to the higher and additional rates, creating a five-band system which would see many Scots actually pay less tax than they do now.

This would raise an extra £164m. This rising to £366m when combined with threshold changes from previous years.

UPDATE: The SNP have reached a deal with the Scottish Green Party, in exchange for a ”substantial package” of funding towards extra cash for councils and better pay settlements for workers in the public sector.

Mr Mackay will inform MSPs of the details of the deal at Holyrood later today.

Follow the Budget debate at 2.40pm today at Holyroodhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-42858908

Can Scottish football compete with European elites?

It’s that time of the year again when football fans eagerly await news of the latest transfers their club is making in the transfer window. As clubs in Europe are making transactions of over £100 million per window these days, it’s normal practice to see those types of figures bandied about.

For the bigger clubs in Europe those signings are made to help them achieve success in European competitions like the Champions League or the Europa League.

This season, only Celtic made it through the qualifying rounds as the only Scottish team in European competition. Despite dropping out of the Champions League before Christmas, Brendan Rodgers’ side will take part in the Europa League next month – where they will face Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg.

In their Champions League group, Celtic faced two of the richest clubs worldwide: Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. They lost all matches against those sides. The total value of Celtic’s team was tiny compared to the German and French teams – a far cry from the days when Scottish clubs competed in high level matches with Europe’s best. In the current climate, that is not likely to happen again.

Olivier Ntcham was Celtic’s big money buy last summer. Credit: Getty Sport

Neil Patey, a football finance expert, believes that the millions of pounds in broadcast revenue sets the larger leagues apart from that of Scotland’s top flight. He said:

In reality, small leagues, Scotland and Celtic as an example, will never be competitive financially with a team in the upper echelons of the English, Spanish, German, Italian leagues. Aside wealthy owners, those leagues command more money from media rights.

You’re going to get somewhere between £140 million to £200 million every year through media rights. The winners of the Scottish Premiership get about £2.5 million so you are never going to be on an equal footing and there will always be that disparity between big and small leagues.

Celtic are still miles ahead of the rest of the country financially. They spent £4.5 million on midfielder Olivier Ntcham last summer and are likely to receive a multi-million pound offer for their striker Moussa Dembele this month. Edinburgh clubs Hibernian and Hearts struggle to reach seven figures to pay for any players.

Former SFA chief executive, Gordon Smith, thinks that Scotland’s finances will only get better if money is invested into the clubs differently. He said:

[Clubs] might have a buyer who can flaunt the rules a wee bit like some people do, basically coming in as a sponsor like you see in England with Etihad, for example. They can get around it because the owners get to put money in in different ways so that’s the only way Scottish teams can compete.

Gordon Smith (left) believes the Scottish clubs need wealthy owners to compete. Credit: Getty Images

UEFA’s financial fair play rule also keeps tabs on how clubs operate financially. The rule requires teams to financially breakeven with their revenue and expenditure. For the leagues and clubs who benefit from hefty television income that means more money is able to be spent within the rules.

Financial fair play expert, Ed Thompson, says that it is those rules which make it hard for smaller leagues to compete now. He stated:

In Scotland, and smaller countries, the amount of money that TV companies can afford to pay is less. If you look at big clubs in small countries, they have absolutely fallen off a cliff as far as UEFA competition is concerned.

Historically, top clubs in Holland, Belgium, Romania and Scotland – like Ajax, Steaua Bucharest, Anderlecht, Celtic and Rangers – who would have done well in Europe and won competitions, because they are in small countries where TV revenues are lower, financial fair play rules mean they are unable to compete.

Scottish clubs can keep trying. However, football and money are a married couple in the modern day and until Scottish football is rolling in it, pushing custard up a hill with a fork looks much easier.

£1 Million for School of Computing

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Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing is set to see a massive difference after receiving  more than £1 million from Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

The funding will allow the university to create two Honours programmes in Software Development for Business and Information Technology Management for Business.

Dr Sally Smith, Dean of Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, said: “Nationally employers have a large unmet demand for more computing graduates. These courses will be a true partnership between the tech sector in Scotland and the University and are designed to attract new talent into the sector.”

The courses will start in May this year and will see 30 places available across both courses.

Free Lunch Cancelled for Councillors

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They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. Well, not anymore. Local councillors have been informed that they will no longer be getting free lunch at noon, as they are finishing their work too early.

The decision has led to complaints that councillors are not doing enough work, as the coalition winds down in the run up to the local elections in May.

Conservative councillor Dominic Heslop explained: “Some of the longer-serving councillors will tell you the lunch was necessary when the meetings when on until 7pm or 8pm. But when they can be over by 11.30am can it really be justified?”

Instead councillors will be offered a buffet on full council days, otherwise they will have to pay for their own lunch.

Stock markets drops as Trump wins the US Presidential Election

The aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 Presidential Election has been felt across financial sectors all over the world as markets in UK, Europe and Asia suffer. The Dollar and Peso have also fallen following the Republican candidate’s victory.

A downturn in the markets was expected if a Trump victory was revealed, and already the FTSE 100 (London Stock Exchange) has fallen 1.6% in wake of Trump’s victory, but has since steadied to 0.5%. The European markets also suffered a hit with the DAX (German Stock Exchange) and CAC (French Stock Exchange) opening 2.8% and 2.5% down respectively.

However the falls were less than expected, as Trump’s victory speech did enough to calm the markets for now. The economic aftermath was anticipated to be similar to that following  post-Brexit, but the falls were not as extreme as those seen in June.

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The Asian markets dropped as the results were coming through, with Japan’s Nikkei index falling by more than 5% whilst China and Hong Kong markets also saw severe drops by the time the markets closed.

With Trump’s comments on Mexicans during the lead-up to the presidential contest, the Peso became the currency to watch, to see how it would react. As Trump’s lead widened, the Peso began to see its largest crash since 1994 – falling as much as 13% during the night.

The Peso had been recovering over the past few days after a Clinton victory seemed to be assured. The Peso’s sharp fall is a clear indication of the fear that Trump’s election brings to Mexicans, but it is also on the rebound.

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The dollar also struggled against ‘safe haven’ currencies such as yen and gold, while the Euro is doing well against it.

While Trump’s promise of big spending on infrastructure has helped to ease the international market somewhat, the real test will be when the President-Elect takes his place in the White House.

Lloyds to end PPI with £1bn final payout

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Lloyds total PPI payout now amounts to £17 billion.

Lloyds TSB has announced an end to the payments protection insurance scandal with one final payout of £1bn. The scandal has so far cost the banking industry £35bn in payouts.

The extra provision was expected after the deadline for PPI claims was extended to June 2019.

George Culmer, chief financial officer of Lloyds, said on Wednesday that the latest £1bn provision was aimed at covering claims up until the deadline. He added: “So it would be the last big PPI provision that we would expect to take”.

The extra provision for PPI claims comes on top of the £16bn Lloyds has already set aside to tackle PPI mis-selling. It is the bank worst affected by the PPI mis-selling scandal.

The announcement came as the bank announced that pre-tax profits for the three months to the end of September fell 15% to £811m.

Brexit has also been responsible for this downturn in the banks fortunes. Shares in Lloyds have fallen by about a quarter since the referendum, partly due to the bank’s large exposure to any potential downturn in the economy.

 

Expanding retailer at Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport retailer created 44 new jobs. Image courtesy of flikr/Matte Doni

Edinburgh Airport retailer created 44 new jobs. Image courtesy of Matte Doni/ Flickr

Edinburgh Airport is seeing an increase in job opportunities as World Duty Free doubles the size of its store  in the capital’s airport.

The travel retailer has expanded, creating dozens of new jobs. The store has hired 44 more staff  as it moves to a larger premises in the airport.

With outlets across the UK, World Duty Free is one of the most popular stores among travellers. They have sites in Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

The branch has a wide range of products on offer, including cosmetics, perfume, fashion accessories, spirits and souvenirs.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar stated in a press release:

“This fantastic World Duty Free store doubling in size is a great example of how we have listened to our passengers and have delivered greater choice to improve the constantly evolving Edinburgh Airport experience.”

 

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