THE Green Investment Bank has been accused of treating the Capital as a “back office” while basing most of its work in London.
The accusation comes after the bank was awarded to Edinburgh amid much fanfare after a hard-fought competition to host its headquarters.
Bosses of the bank – which invests public money into promising green projects – told Holyrood’s economy committee they had 31 staff based at the Edinburgh headquarters in Morrison Street with about 50 at their “transaction hub” in London.
Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi said: “That doesn’t strike me as what the average person in the street would think of as headquartered in Edinburgh with a branch in London. Instead, it looks a little bit like the opposite.”
Bank chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin said the headquarters functions, including finance and HR, are here, as is the investment team for energy efficiency projects.
He said: “All the board meetings, except for very occasional things, take place in Edinburgh and there are four Scottish directors out of nine on the board.”
The bank’s other two investment teams, for offshore wind projects and waste and biomass, were based in London. Chief executive Shaun Kingsbury said London was where deals were done because that’s where the relevant people in other organisations were based.
He added: “If we were financing a German wind project with a Swedish investor we would probably end up doing the documents in London in English.
“We are very conscious of our green footprint. We didn’t want to have a lot of folk sitting in Edinburgh and the first thing they do on a Monday morning is get a train or a flight to London.”
Mr Biagi agreed such a scenario was not desirable, but he said: “You refer to these deals being done in English – we speak English in Scotland as well and we do have quite a lot of lawyers in Edinburgh.
“It strikes me as a bit London-centric. I think an observer could not be faulted for saying the meat and drink of what you are doing is happening in London and you have a back office function in Edinburgh.”
Mr Kingsbury also revealed the average salary for bank staff was £80,000 in Edinburgh and £120,000 in London.