Reacting to the news that Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary Direct Line Insurance is proposing axing up to 500 jobs at its Thornaby call centre Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“This is clearly awful news. It is especially devastating when there are so few job vacancies on Teesside, with there being 9.5 jobseekers per vacancy in the Tees Valley, which is more than twice the national average.
“I really would have hoped that prior to Direct Line making these proposals that they would have considered quite how dire the job situation on Teesside is, and the real difficulties their employees will face in getting new jobs and paying their mortgages.
“Whilst these redundancies are being made as part of the re-privatisation process by separating the Direct Line Group from the Royal Bank of Scotland, I think these companies have a public duty to help people here on Teesside. When they were struggling, the public bailed them out to avoid economic collapse. Now, when the public on Teesside are struggling, they are making 500 people redundant.
“That duty is even more stark when you realise that they are not a poor company. Only last year, Direct Line’s pre-tax profits were over £100 million, whilst their operating profits from continued operations rose 7 per cent to well over £200 million. I would have thought this would have made them an attractive investment as they float on the Stock Exchange, even if they did not make 500 people here redundant.
“There is still time for Direct Line and RBS to rethink this decision. I really hope they do. When they were in need, taxpayers here helped them, but now when we are in need, they are failing to return the favour.
“I intend to raise this matter in Parliament. I need an assurance that George Osborne and Vince Cable are doing all within their power to urge Direct Line and RBS to change their mind. If worst comes to worst and these proposals go through, I would also like to gain a promise by the Government that they would provide additional support to those made redundant here on Teesside.”