Five questions answered… on Royal Bank of Scotland’s PPI provisions

The cost of PPI mis-selling continues to rise.

RBS has set aside even more money to cover the cost of compensation claims for mis-sold PPI. We answer five questions on RBS’s PPI payouts.

How much more has RBS put aside to cover PPI mis-selling claims?

RBS has announced it will be setting aside a further £400m to cover future anticipated PPI compensation claims. 

It has also set aside another £50m to cover the cost of compensation from a recent computer systems failure which affected customers earlier in the year.

How much has the bank spent on PPI mis-selling claims already?

Including this latest fund, a staggering £1.7bn

What about other banks?  

In total, and including any latest provisions, the PPI scandal has cost UK banks £10.8bn. 

Lloyds banking group has also announced it has put aside a further £1bn of provisions to cover claims. 

What is RBS current financial position?

RBS, which is 80 per cent owned by the UK government, has reported a pre-tax loss of £1.26bn for the three months to 30 September, against a £2bn profit a year earlier. 

The bank is also bracing itself over possible steep penalties for any involvement it might of had in alleged manipulation of the Libor inter-bank lending rate. Barclays was recently fined £290 million for attempting to manipulate libor. 

Another big hit for the bank is a £1.5bn charge against its own debt due to an accounting rule that requires it to take a loss on increases in the value of its bonds. 

RBS's operating profits for the third quarter were £1bn, up from a £650m profit in the second quarter. However these figures discount the PPI mis-selling and other charges. 

What has RBS said?

Chief Executive of RBS, Stephen Hester, told the BBC: 

"The extraordinary challenges which RBS faced following the financial crisis are being worked through successfully"

"The five year restructuring plan is now in its later stages with important work still to do, including an emphasis on dealing with reputational issues now that the bank's safety and soundness has advanced so well."

Adding that the bank is too often was looked upon as putting the short-term interests of shareholders and staff above customers. 

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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