Co-operative Bank

Source: readgroup.co.uk

Overview

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.

Policies

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.

The Co-operative Bank has an open and transparent tax policy which is approved by Fair Tax for the year 2017-18.

Projects

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.

Controversies

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.

Practicalities

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:

    1. Current account - overdraft available on request, subject to a credit check.
    2. Cashminder - no overdraft available.
    3. 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.

Savings accounts

The Co-op have a number of savings accounts which range from instant access to children’s savings to ISAs. View them here.