The Co-op Bank is the first that springs to mind when thinking of ethical banking on the UK High Street. It is the only UK high-street bank with a customer led ethical policy.
The Co-operative Bank has an ethical code of conduct as part of its constitution and operates an active Ethical Policy, overseen by a committee chaired by an independent director. The Ethical Policy was recently revised (2017), led by customer responses to policy changes. The full document can be found here - with seven key principles:
- Acting with honesty and transparency
- Being a responsible bank that treats customers fairly
- Promoting human rights and equality
- Promoting economic and social development in Britain
- Protecting the environment
- Supporting international development
- Protecting animal welfare
Co-operative Bank does not provide financing to any activities which contradict these principles. The bank therefore does not provide banking services to businesses or organisations whose core business contributes to:
- Global climate change via the extraction or production of fossil fuels.
- The distribution of those fuels that have a higher global warming impact e.g. tar sands.
- The unsuitable harvest of natural resources.
- The manufacturing or transfer of indiscriminate weapons, torture equipment or other equipment that is used in violation of human rights.
- Irresponsible marketing practices e.g. with regard to tobacco products.
- These are presented alongside many other ethical principles.
In addition to the exclusion of businesses which take part in certain activities or sectors, the Co-operative Bank actively seeks to support positive businesses and organisations. Examples of this are:
- Seeking to support charities and organisations involved in the Social Enterprise sector.
- Support small businesses and organisations whose activities promote a healthy environment.
The Co-operative Bank offsets their operational greenhouse gas emissions, but do not yet report on their financed emissions.
The Co-operative Bank experienced extreme financial trouble in 2013, reporting losses of £600 million. In 2017 it underwent a restructuring leaving the Co-operative Group with a minority stake in the company, with US hedge funds controlling a majority proportion. The bank vowed to maintain an ethical policy even following the acquisition.
The Co-op is included in the UK Government run Current Account Switch service, with a guarantee of completion within 7 working days.
Three current accounts are on offer:
- Current account - overdraft available on request, subject to a credit check.
- Cashminder - no overdraft available.
- Everyday Extra - existing customers only, includes Worldwide travel insurance, breakdown cover (UK/Europe) and mobile phone insurance. £15/month.
View information on current account applications here.
Student current accounts
Their Student Current Account is not currently available, but did include a £1,400 interest free overdraft in your 1st year, increasing to £2000 by the third year. This overdraft is free for a year after you finish your studies. View the original Co-op student account here. This may become available again in the future, however we can’t confirm this.
The Co-op have a number of savings accounts which range from instant access to children’s savings to ISAs. View them here.