RBS reduces losses to £3.6bn

The Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a loss of £3.6bn for 2009, a significant improvement from the £24.3bn loss the bank made in 2008.

Gross mortgage lending in 2009 totalled £19.3bn, including over £3.8bn to first-time buyers.

Net mortgage lending over the year was £11.8bn.

Last February RBS pledged to make an additional £9bn available for mortgage lending as part of its participation in the Asset Protection Scheme.

The state-backed bank, in which taxpayers have an 84% stake, says it is on target to exceed this mortgage lending commitment.

RBS says that its acceptance rates for mortgage lending are over 88%.

Between October and December last year RBS added 19,000 mortgage accounts, taking the total number of mortgage accounts to 845,000.

The figure is 10% up on December 2008.

UK mortgage balances reached £91.9bn as at December 31, 15% higher than at the end of 2008.

RBS lent £79.5bn of gross new lending to UK households and businesses last year, half of which was lent to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Impairments, or bad debts, rose from £7.4bn in 2008 to £13.9bn in 2009, though RBS says impairments appear to have peaked.

Stephen Hester, group chief executive of RBS, says: “We are one year into our five-year turnaround plan and have taken significant steps along the path to recovery.

“The strengths of our core business are becoming clearer, while the legacy of losses and exposures from the crisis is running off.”

“RBS is being restructured and run to serve customers well, to be safe and stable and to restore sustainable shareholder value for all.

“That is our legal duty and it is our intention and desire.

“It is also the only way taxpayers will recover the support they have given us.”