Social impact bank hits record £1 billion in lending

Written by Lori Campbell on 25th Mar 2024

Unity Trust Bank, which supports organisations to deliver positive social impact around the UK, has reported a record level of lending in its latest annual results.

For the first time in its 40-year history, Unity has exceeded £1 billion in lending for social impact for the first time, with almost half (45.3 per cent) reaching areas of high deprivation. .

Overall lending in 2023 increased by 21 per cent to £1.01 billion (in 2022 it was £836.6 million), while after-tax earnings rose to £48.9 million (in 2022 they were £22.8 million).

Colin Fyfe, CEO at Unity Trust Bank, said: “Surpassing £1 billion in lending for the first time is testament to the principles that Unity was founded on 40 years ago – that a bank can deliver social purpose as well as sustainable commercial returns.

“Our 2023 objectives were achieved against a backdrop of turbulent economic conditions, and supporting our customers continues to be at the core of our strategy.

“The higher bank rate environment, alongside balance sheet growth, increased financial returns for Unity in 2023 and enabled us to continue to advance our purpose and our investment in customer services.”

Founded by the Co-op Bank and trade unions in 1984, and now fully independent, Unity helps organisations across the UK to prosper while creating measurable economic, social and environmental change.

Unity Trust Bank: 40 years of banking for impact

Measurable positive impact

By only using customer deposits to lend to organisations that deliver quantifiable impact in local communities, Unity’s funding in 2023 helped to support 1,458 care home spaces; 572 day care and education spaces and 7,143 jobs. It also provided affordable homes for 1,225 households and 452 properties benefited from retrofitting activities.

Unity continued to strengthen its support to customers in 2023, introducing a new digital banking platform and establishing sector specific customer hubs.

Unity’s vision is to become the market leader in ethical banking in the UK

Committed to developing the way it measures and manages its own contributions to people and planet, the bank joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) and released its first financed emissions reporting; strengthening its commitment to understanding its role in supporting customers facing the impacts of climate change.

Unity also maintains its carbon neutral status for its own emissions through continued engagement with the Housing Association Charitable Trust’s (HACT’s) award-winning Retrofit Credits programme.

Colin added: “Unity’s vision is to become the market leader in ethical banking in the UK and we will continue to help improve the lives of local communities into the next 40 years through responsible financing.”

In 2023, employee-led Unity & Me initiatives supported positive outcomes for customers and communities. Unity increased its discretionary donations five-fold from 2022, supporting 26 organisations to deliver positive outcomes for the most vulnerable in society. It also maintained its partnership with the Prince’s Trust and volunteered with 123 young people throughout the year and increased its overall staff volunteering days by 2.5 per cent compared to 2022.

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