Newsletter 2 April 2015

Your views on the customer union, and latest news from the bank

It’s been a while since our last newsletter, but we’ve got a few things to update you on – including the feedback you gave us on our plans for a customer union, and some news from the bank on its latest results.

Your views on the Customer Union

We asked your views back in November on our plans to set up a “Union of Co-op Bank Customers” - an organised group of customers capable of holding the bank to account on its ethical promises, and of building a new co-operative shareholding in the bank. (You can read more about the plans here.)

Your response has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 1,500 of you responded, and of those, 78 per cent were interested in joining the Union. Plus, hundreds said you would be prepared to donate to help get the union started. Thank you to all of you!

Many of you commented that you needed to see more details on how the union would work before deciding on whether to join or contribute. We want the Union to be a co-operative in itself, founded on a not-for-profit basis. And we want it to be able to buy a co-operative share in the bank and grow it. We’ve been talking to legal and co-op experts about the best way to structure the Union to meet these aims.  

We have some more work to do to decide on the right structure – as customer unions are a new idea which have been discussed but not yet built, this is all new ground. But we’re confident that it can be done. For now, watch this space.

Co-op Bank is cutting its losses, but paying its boss a fortune

Last Friday the Co-op Bank announced its latest financial results, which showed that the bank’s losses in 2014 were around half the size they were the year before, and that its capital position has improved since it failed Bank of England stress tests last year. While there’s still a lot of work to do to turn the bank around, it’s good to see the financials are moving in the right direction.

But this is coming at the cost of job losses and branch closures. The Mirror reported that this year will see 57 branches close, on top of 72 which closed last year, and that further job cuts were inevitable.

Against this background, the bank’s Chief Executive, Niall Booker, was paid £3.1m last year, and news sources say his pay could amount to £4.97m this year. The pay packet was criticised by trade unions and others, including co-op consultants Mutuo, who said of the pay packet, “it’s not ethical and it’s certainly not cooperative.”

We’re pleased Booker has agreed to stay on until the end of 2016 as this brings some much needed stability to the bank. However he seems to have forgotten he has signed up to manage a bank with co-operative values – such as equity and equality - embedded in its constitution. We’ve asked him to reject his bonus. We would like to see an explanation from the bank of how these rewards live up to co-operative values and the bank’s new ethical policy commitment to ensure executive pay is “fair and responsible.

You can help us to get an explanation by contacting the bank.

Tweet to lobby the bank:

Tweet

.@CoopBankUK Glad losses are down, but please explain how Niall Booker’s pay is justified given job cuts and branch closures? #SaveOurBank 

You can also contact the bank by post or email – see their complaints page here. Don’t forget to mention Save Our Bank and email us the bank’s response (info@saveourbank.coop).

With best wishes,

The Save Our Bank team