Morning papers: RBS to cut 30,000 jobs

Royal Bank of Scotland could cut more than 30,000 jobs in the coming years as it transforms itself into a smaller UK retail bank and withdraws from its riskier investment banking practices, the Financial Times reports.

According to the paper, the bank is also expected to announce a plan to offload much of its international business.

The dramatic overhaul is part of a series of cost-cutting measures and disposals led by new chief executive Ross McEwan, which the FT says could lead to a 25 per cent reduction of its 120,000 headcount.

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Mr McEwan says in a video on the RBS website: “My aspiration is not to run the world’s biggest bank. My aspiration is to run the best bank in the UK - nothing to do with size. A lot of our costs are old costs related to a big global group that we are not any more.”

Interest rates could rise sooner than expected

Martin Weale, an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee, said the Bank of England could raise interest rates before the general election in 2015, the Telegraph reports.

According to the paper, interest rates are set to rise next spring, but could rise sooner if falling unemployment is seen to be causing inflationary pressures.

Scottish pound warning ‘backfired’

Warnings from the government’s three main political parties that an independent Scotland would lose a currency union with the UK has “backfired”, with a new poll showing only one in three voters believe Westminster, the Guardian reports.

The paper reports that Alex Salmond told MPs: “Most people in Scotland would feel that George Osborne insulted the intelligence of the Scottish people... The indications we have so far is that joint enterprise between George Osborne and Ed Balls has backfired on the two unionist parties in spectacular fashion.”

A poll in the Scottish Daily Mail showed an increase in support for the pro-independence side in the week following Mr Osborne’s speech.

Homes construction up 23 per cent

Work began on more new homes in 2013 than at any time since before the financial crisis, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the paper, construction began on 122,590 new homes last year, up 23 per cent on 2012 and the most since 2007.

UK faces £300m per year pollution fine

The UK could be forced to pay £300m every year in fines over failing to cut its nitrogen dioxide emissions - a gas produced mainly by diesel vehicles and believed to cause premature death and affect the growth of children’s lungs, the Independent reports.

The European Commission said it is taking legal action against the UK because the country has not produced a plan to bring its emission levels below agreed limits.

Governments were supposed to reduce levels to “safe levels” by 2010, the EC said in a statement. Extensions could be granted to countries which demonstrated a “credible and workable plan” for meeting the requirements, but which Britain has failed to produce.