NatWest chief Alison Rose under pressure over bank’s poor savings rates
Natwest boss Alison Rose is under pressure to answer MPs' questions on her banks' poor savings rates after turning down a request to appear in front of a leading select committee.
The Treasury Select Committee (TSC) will quiz bank bosses next week about a range of consumer issues, including why returns on savings accounts have not kept pace with the Bank of England's interest rate rises.
It is understood Ms Rose is the only high street bank boss who refused to appear before the TSC. Matt Hammerstein, the boss of Barclays, Charlie Nunn, the boss of Lloyds Banking Group and Ian Stuart, the UK boss of HSBC, have all agreed to give evidence.
Ms Rose has blamed diary constraints ahead of the lender's full year results on February 17.
However, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds are also due to publish full-year results this month, with Barclays due to report on Feb 15 - two days before NatWest.
It is understood Harriett Baldwin, chairman of the TSC, called Ms Rose on Tuesday to personally ask her to attend.
Ms Baldwin said: “I am very keen that all the major banks’ top executives appear before our Committee. I am particularly keen that it should not be an all-male panel, because we want to send a message to younger women in banking that they can reach the very top.”
NatWest will instead be represented by David Lindberg, its head of retail banking.
The bank is still 45pc owned by the taxpayer, and has £473bn of customer cash on deposit. Its flexible saver account pays just 0.65pc on deposits up to £25,000, far less than the current Bank of England base rate of 3.5pc.
TSC member and Conservative MP Anthony Browne, who was formerly head of the British Bankers Association, said: “It is vital that the bosses of the UK's largest banks answer questions from MPs on the record and in public. Our constituents expect nothing less.”
The average easy access savings account currently pays an interest rate of 1.73pc, up from 0.2pc in December 2021, according to Moneyfacts. This is despite the Bank of England raising interest rates nine times since the end of 2021, when they stood at a record low of 0.1pc.
Policymakers are expected to raise interest rates for the tenth time to 4pc on Thursday. Meanwhile the interest rate on an average five year fixed-rate mortgage deal has climbed from 2.64pc to 5.2pc.
A spokesman for NatWest said: “As the chief executive of our retail bank, serving 16 million customers, David Lindberg is directly responsible for these critical consumer issues and is an appropriate representative for NatWest Group at the hearing next week.”