The Co-operative Bank turns away £100m of "unethical" business whilst increasing lending to UK businesses

June 01, 2010

The Co-operative Bank remains committed to its customers’ ethical stance, and last year turned away almost £100m of business for ethical reasons. At the same time, the bank provided an additional £800 million worth of finance to UK businesses, taking its total lending to £8.3bn.

Its annual ethical audit report published today (1st June) details the business foregone by the Bank for ethical and environmental reasons. These included 20 finance opportunities which conflicted with the bank’s ethical criteria on human rights and the arms trade; 16 companies which breached its guidelines on environmental impact, for example through supporting oil and gas extraction, and four which breached its animal welfare policies.

Opportunities turned away included finance for missile equipment to go to oppressive regimes, banking services for a cleaning products manufacturer that continued to test on animals and lending for the development of two new UK coal mining operations.

At the same time, the bank significantly increased its support for UK businesses, and in particular, businesses that have a distinct ethical, environmental or co-operative purpose. The bank’s audit report showed that these businesses made up over half of its commercial deposits and a quarter of loans and overdrafts.

The ethical positioning, which clearly distinguishes The Co-operative Bank from the rest of the banking sector, has also helped attract a massive increase in interest from consumers ready to embrace trusted brands in the wake of the credit crunch.

Tim Franklin, Chief Operating Officer at The Co-operative Financial Services said: “These figures clearly demonstrate that there has been no relaxation in the implementation of the bank’s Ethical Policy and we continue to turn business away that conflicts with our customers’ concerns.

“Despite these actions, the Bank’s corporate business goes from strength to strength with a growing proportion of corporate customers coming from sectors that make a positive contribution to society.

“The value of this policy was underlined by the flight to trust we witnessed following the credit crunch, leading to a 38 per cent increase in new current accounts opened.”

The Bank revised its Ethical Policy in 2009 after a record 80,000 customers responded to a detailed questionnaire inviting account holders to express their views on topics as wide ranging as human rights, international development, ecology and animal welfare.


For more information contact:

Dave Smith
PR Manager
The Co-operative Group
0161 827 5614
07702 152771