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Banks accused of debt 'strangle-hold'

16 February 2004
The Consumers Association has blasted the big four high-street banks for having a “stranglehold” on debt-laden Britons.

The accusation comes in the wake of a £6 billion profit announcement by Nat West owner, Royal Bank of Scotland. The figures represent £300 for each of its 20 million customers in 2003.

Put another way, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC are expected to have made total profits of more than £50,000 for every minute of last year.

Mick McAteer, principal policy adviser at the Consumers' Association, told The Guardian: “We have always been concerned that [banks] exploit the stranglehold they have on the high street.

“We don't think the big four are taking their social responsibilities seriously.”

Unions representing RBS workers also expressed concern at the size of the profits. Dai Davies, director of communications at Unifi, stated: “What happens when the downturn comes?

“We like our members to work for profitable companies - but come on, let's have a bit of equity.”

Individual borrowers last year added £120 billion to their existing debts, which now total £934 billion, the bulk of it in mortgages.