Join us at our Gathering and hear from the Co-operative Bank and Unite the Union

The FederationOur Gathering in Manchester is only two weeks away! Register now to secure your place, in person or remotely via Zoom, and join the discussions about the future of the Save Our Bank campaign and Customer Union.

Joining us on Saturday 24 November will be:

  • Lesley McPherson, Director of Communications at the Co-operative Bank. Lesley will join us for a discussion about the new team in charge at the Co-op Bank and its future plans around ethics and campaigning. Lesley joined the Co-op Bank as comms director in June 2016, having previously been head of communications at Edinburgh Council.
  • Jane Lewis, Senior Union Representative at Unite the Union. Jane represents Unite members at the Co-op Bank, and will join us for a discussion of how Unite’s structured engagement with the bank works, and how the Customer Union and Unite can support each others’ aims as we engage with the bank.

And of course, the Save Our Bank team will be there to discuss developments in the campaign and the Customer Union.

  • Ryan Brightwellwill give an update on progress at the Customer Union over 2018. Ryan was an Ethics Adviser with the Co-operative Bank for six years until 2012, and now works for the campaigning charity BankTrack in the Netherlands.
  • Rob Harrisonwill talk about our plans to develop a structured relationship with the Co-op Bank and the progress have we have made towards this. Rob is a founding director of Ethical Consumer magazine and a specialist in ethics in the finance sector (or the lack of it).
  • Shaun Fensomwill lead a discussion on the second aim of the customer union – bringing the bank back into co-operative ownership. Shaun is a freelancer with a technical background, and the developer of the Save Our Bank website.

Register now on our EventBrite page to secure your place at the Gathering, join the discussion and help set our strategy for the year ahead. We look forward to seeing you there!

Co-op Bank narrows losses and prepares to start offering personal loans again

The bank has just released its results for the first three quarters of this year, and the moderately good news is it’s losing less money than before, and also broadening its range of products. “The bank eked out an operating profit of £14.3m in the first nine months of 2018, but restructuring costs drove it to a pre-tax loss of £87m”, reports the FT (paywall). The Evening Standard puts it more bluntly.

As part of the push to return to profitability, the bank is also preparing to begin offering personal loans and other services that it has had to pull out of in the last few years, again according to the FT. CityAM highlights that the bank has had the best quarter for mortgage completions in five years. There is also speculation in the media about when the current owners might want to offload their shares in the bank, although this is unlikely to be imminent. Lets make sure finding a cooperative buyer is on their agenda.

New ads focus on ethics and campaigning

Finally, the bank has launched a new ad campaign featuring real customers talking about why they value the bank’s ethics. There’s even a mention of “campaigning for what’s right”, which we hope is a sign that new ethical campaigns are on the way.

The bank has been campaigning with Refuge since 2015 to address financial abuse in domestic relationships, a campaign which the bank says helped lead to the recent launch of a Financial Abuse Code of Practice. We would like to see the bank return to campaigning on the core issues covered in its Ethical Policy, around environmental protection, international development, human rights and animal welfare issues. Something we look forward to exploring with the bank at our Gathering in two weeks!

With thanks and best wishes,

The Save Our Bank team

Have you joined the Customer Union yet? It costs £12 a year to be a member of the first ever customer union co-operative, and help us ensure the Co-op Bank sticks to its principles. It only takes a few moments to sign up here.