Concerns over future of Clydesdale Bank prompt renewed calls for more economic powers

17
1333

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Concerns over the future of the Clydesdale Bank have prompted renewed calls for Scotland to be given more economic powers in order to protect the Scottish economy.
 
The calls follow an announcement yesterday from the bank’s owners, National Australia Bank (NAB), that they are reviewing their UK operations as a result of the economic policies being pursued by the Westminster Government.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Concerns over the future of the Clydesdale Bank have prompted renewed calls for Scotland to be given more economic powers in order to protect the Scottish economy.
 
The calls follow an announcement yesterday from the bank’s owners, National Australia Bank (NAB), that they are reviewing their UK operations as a result of the economic policies being pursued by the Westminster Government.

Speaking yesterday, NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne warned that the UK’s economic woes were likely to last for an extended period.

He said: “It is clear that the UK economy is likely to experience a much longer period of subdued growth with the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the Euro-zone and the continuing austerity program by the UK government.

“UK GDP declined by 0.2% in the December quarter.  These difficult conditions have adversely affected the performance of UK Banking. 

“Given our view that recovery is now a longer term prospect, NAB has commenced a strategic review, and will work with UK management to appropriately reposition its business mix and structure for the changed economic environment and improve returns.”

Commenting on the announcement, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP warned that the uncertainty being caused by the UK Government’s economic failures was harming business and investment in Scotland.

Mr Hosie warned that Scotland was at risk from the austerity measures being pursued from London and said:

“After the Chancellor’s baseless scaremongering over the independence referendum, the reality is that it is UK economic policy that is undermining inward investment and recovery.  It is vital that Scottish jobs are not threatened because of Westminster’s economic incompetence, and Clydesdale Bank workers need urgent assurances that their positions are safe.”

The SNP MP claimed that the announcement from NAB was proof that damage to Scotland’s economy was coming from the Tory/Lib Dem austerity cuts and insisted that an urgent change of direction was now needed.

“This simply underlines the urgent need for the UK Government to change course and inject demand into the economy to fuel growth, similar to the ‘Plan MacB’ approach followed by the Scottish Government.” he said and added:

“But, more than anything else, this makes the case for financial responsibility and independence for Scotland.  Scotland’s leading business person and entrepreneur, Jim McColl, has said that many people in business are convinced that a productive and prosperous future for Scotland depends on securing real economic powers for the parliament through constitutional change.”

National Australia bank own the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks.  There are fears that the review could result in significant cutbacks and job losses.

A spokesperson for the Unite union said the announcement had “come out of the blue” for the bank’s staff.

Unite national officer David Fleming said: “Unite has grave concerns about the scale of the review and over the future commitment of NAB within the UK.

“We have opened up dialogue with management in order to get urgent clarification as to the possible implications for the staff.”