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Ax falls across UK banking sector

January lived up to its reputation as being the leanest month Tuesday as several of London's major financial institutions announced swinging cutbacks.

U.K. bank Barclays has instigated travel restrictions on its staff around the world as part of a renewed cost-cutting drive, according to a person familiar with the situation. Originally reported by Sky News, the ban is on "non-essential" international travel for internal meetings but still allows "essential" discussions with clients and regulators.

Its investment banking division will also see "several hundred" job cuts over the next few weeks, according to the reports. The bank's shares clocked gains of 30 percent last year as new Chief Executive Antony Jenkins launched his strategic review at the beginning of 2013.

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In October, it reported a 26 percent drop in third-quarter net profit to £1.385 billion ($2.22 billion) as earnings at its investment banking arm dropped sharply and announced it had received enquiries from regulatory and enforcement authorities who are investigating potential manipulation of foreign exchange trading practices.

It also announced 1,700 job cuts in November for its customer-facing workers in branches across the U.K. Its full-year earnings for 2013 are due on February 11.

Meanwhile, fellow U.K. lender Lloyds - still part-owned by the nation's taxpayers after it was bailed out by the U.K. government in 2008 - announced around 1,080 "role reductions" as part of a larger strategic review that it launched in 2011. A spokesperson for the bank said that the plan had incorporated a total of 15,000 job cuts with 11,760 now complete. However, it added that redeployment has meant that only a third of role reductions have led to people leaving the group through redundancy.

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"Lloyds Banking Group is committed to working through these changes with employees in a careful and sensitive way," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

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One of Lloyd's recognized unions, Unite, hit back after the measures were announced, saying that these underserved workers have helped turn the bank's fortunes around.

"Lloyds Banking Group is well on the road to recovery, with the CEO being recently rewarded handsomely with a share bonus in the region of £2.5 million ($4.1 million), yet staff are being made redundant," Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer said in a press released on its website.

Ulster bank, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland also reported 78 job cuts on Monday in its Retail Problem Debt Management unit, but these form part of a strategic review it detailed back in 2012, a spokesperson told CNBC.

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Since the global financial crash of 2008, the City of London has sliced and diced its way through the following recession with large restructuring solutions being announced as CEOs have come and gone. In a report in November, the U.K.'s Centre for Economics and Business Research said London's financial services sector is likely to see only slow employment growth at best over the next few years as firms try to get more out of their existing workers.

It said that this is expected to be offset by particularly rapid growth among business services companies, such as professional services, admin support and real estate.

"Overall, the sector is expected to increase employment by 2.5 percent in 2013, 2.7 percent in 2014 and by an average of 2.1 percent over the years 2015 to 2018," it said.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81

Banks