The Royal Bank of Scotland has published it is to shed a further 3,500 jobs in the UK, in the latest efficiency drive at the part-nationalised back.

The posts will be lost at its business services arm following the breakup of 12 sites that deal with IT and card processing. Jobs earmarked for the axe contain around 1,000 in IT support and 2,500 support service functions.

A third of the job losses result immediatley from the sale of 318 branches to Santander, which was ordered by the European Commission for competition reasons following the government bail-out.

In the first half of this year, RBS showed a profit of £1.1 billion but the latest round of job cuts brings the number of positions lost to over 20,000 since the banking giant began restructuring in 2009.

Today’s announcement caused an angry reaction from unions. Rob MacGregor, Unite’s national officer, said: “The news that the RBS is to cut another 3,500 staff from across the UK is a horror story.

“Just three weeks ago staff were boosted to hear of the £1.1 billion half year profit, yet today thousands of them are told that they have no future at the bank.

MacGregor appended that up to 500 RBS jobs would be moved abroad to the Far East, India and America, which would make the news “an especially bitter pill for staff to swallow”.

The bank said in a statement: “Having to cut jobs is the most difficult part of our work to rebuild RBS and repay taxpayers for their support.

“We continue to make efficiencies across our business and adjust our plans in line with the divestments we have been required to make by the European Union.”

In 2008 the bank lost £24 billion at the peak of financial crisis following its acquisition of ABN Amro, and is now 84 per cent owned by the state.

The new wave of job losses will start from next year and run through until 2012.

In 2011, the centres set for closure or downsizing are Leeds, Bolton, Enfield and Harrogate. Norwich, Bradford, Telford, Plymouth, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol and Borehamwood are scheduled to close next year. The futures of three other sites are also under review.