In 2022 you spoke in the media about issues affecting our members, such as the housing market. Why is that important to you?
For nearly 150 years, we’ve been here to help our members with home ownership. That’s always been our purpose and there’s an opportunity for us to have a real voice on that because I think home ownership is in crisis at the moment in the UK.
It’s an important issue for many millions of people and we’re matching our words with actions – for example we stopped new lending on second homes and we released seven public policy proposals to address issues in the housing market. Doing the right thing for our members has always been part of who we are. I want us to be at the forefront on issues that are central to us and so many of our members.
What was the biggest challenge for you as CEO in 2022?
The massive uncertainty that we saw in response to the mini budget was very challenging. The market moved every day, rates were changing rapidly and banks and building societies were pulling out of the market all the time.
I was proud that we were able to keep products out there for first time buyers all the way through that disruption. I was very impressed with how our brilliant colleagues stepped forward to support our members throughout what was a difficult time.
Sofia – a Leeds Building Society member who bought her first home with a shared ownership mortgage in 2022.
How did the Society support members in 2022?
We’re here to support our members and get them onto the property ladder, but it’s important to keep them there too.
We haven’t charged mortgage arrears fees since the start of the pandemic, and we’ve developed more options to support people having difficulties with their mortgage.
Savers had a hard time of it for many years but as interest rates rose last year we provided competitive rates for them, too.
We’ll carry on supporting all our members in what will be another challenging year.
Will the savings market evolve in 2023?
At the back end of 2022, we were able to provide some very competitive fixed rate savings products, and we want to continue to do that in 2023.
We have to balance that with service, because occasionally they’ve been so popular we’ve been swamped with demand.
We had our best ever year for savings in 2022, with growth in savings balances of £2 billion and 85,500 new savers joining us. In 2023, when we’re able to do so, we’ll carry on passing on the benefit of Bank of England rate rises to our members.
How did we show leadership on climate change in 2022?
We already achieved carbon neutral status in 2021 for our operational Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions, and some Scope 3 emissions. We’ve just agreed a set of challenging targets for reducing our emissions further, including an aim to reach net zero operations by 2030 through a 90% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
And we’re doing our bit for members too, by taking more efficient new build properties into account in our lending decisions. That allows us to lend more money to people buying those properties because their future energy bills will be lower. We were the first lender to do that last year and we want to continue to innovate in that space.