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Triodos Bank in the UK

The UK’s banking industry continued to be challenged by governance issues in 2015, with very hard hitting reports by regulators into failures at both HBOS and the Co-operative Bank.

A new Conservative government, elected in May, dominated the broader political and economic landscape. It has taken a more aggressive position on the removal of subsidies for renewables, which has created uncertainty and has forced the industry to recalibrate its position. Onshore wind and community renewables, two key areas for Triodos Bank in the UK, are expected to be set back by the changes to the subsidy regime in the short-term. Proposals for tenants’ ‘right to buy’ housing association properties have created uncertainty for another key sector. And the announcement of a referendum on the UK’s future as part of the EU is set to be a key feature in the political landscape into 2016.

Positively there has been increasing dialogue about the role of business in society and in particular the role of finance, demonstrating an appetite for change from the public. There remains broad interest in a new financial system built on genuine values delivering real positive impact to the real economy, and there is an increasingly positive picture for Triodos in the UK. People’s interest in sustainable finance continues to build, enabling us to grow our lending to high impact sustainable enterprises while at the same time welcoming new depositors, building the UK balance sheet to over £1 billion for the first time.

Bristol European Green Capital 2015 was a local focus for Triodos Bank in the UK, and a chance to really contribute to and actively participate in a range of sustainability initiatives and activities linked to the year. The bank acquired its UK head office in Bristol from its landlords, giving it greater flexibility with the space and a solid asset for the future, and further demonstrating its commitment to the city.

Key milestones

Triodos Bank in the UK continued to grow at a sustainable, manageable level, and delivered lending growth of 11% to £626m – a net increase of £61m compared to £47m in 2014.

We have continued to develop a diverse and high-impact loan portfolio, with key areas of growth including community renewables and health care, including elderly and special needs care. A new partnership has been established with Social Investment Scotland, the leading social lending in Scotland, using an innovative financial structure to provide finance to grassroots social organisations requiring unsecured borrowing.

The amount of funds entrusted to us grew by 12% to £847m. Personal savings growth was ahead of target for the year, with ISAs performing particularly well and bolstering the overall position. Alongside this, business banking deposits saw healthy levels of growth, largely supported by a number of large deposits from well-established existing businesses and charities.

Triodos Corporate Finance remains a pioneer of innovative finance models in social investment, helping charities, social enterprises and environmental projects connect directly with investors in order to raise finance. Triodos Corporate Finance raised more than £14million in 2015 for eight organisations delivering a wide range of positive impact: alleviating youth homelessness, providing work for ex-offenders, housing people with a learning disability, engaging young people in education and creating clean electricity. This brings the total capital raised on behalf of clients in the last five years to £72 million.

Two Social Impact Bonds, Triodos New Horizons and St Mungo’s, successfully achieved their goals and produced maximum value for investors. They are among the first of these payments by results contracts to meet their targets.

Work continued on developing a personal current account, including appointing a project delivery team which was in place by the spring of 2015. Good progress has been made and the product is planned to launch initially in early 2017.

Customer communications

Bristol’s year as European Green Capital was a key focus for the bank and an opportunity to ensure that sustainable finance was on the agenda. The bank was an official sponsor of the year and actively participated in a number of initiatives which raised the profile of the city’s sustainability efforts. These included a live interview with Triodos Bank CEO Peter Blom broadcast at the Bristol 2015 Sustainable Business Summit event, to coincide with the GABV’s banking on values campaign.

The annual meeting in Bristol linked to the year, with the theme ‘greening capital’. A range of speakers examined the role finance can play in tackling today’s social and environmental issues. The event also included a special celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the UK branch.

The bank continued to secure high profile coverage in national media including the personal finance press and national television news. Triodos Bank partnered with Ethical Consumer magazine to release the Ethical Consumer Market Reports 2015, demonstrating the bank’s support for a more conscious approach to spending and finance.

A programme of tailored content specifically aimed at key business banking markets started during 2015, providing useful information and opinion for owners of green tourism businesses and senior charity managers.

Ambitions for 2015

The personal current account project will continue to be a key focus in 2016, with an initial launch planned in early 2017.

Lending in the UK will focus on proactively bringing resources to areas of social and environmental impact that require financial support, alongside furthering our impact in our existing sectors.

The UK branch has appointed a new Managing Director. Dr Bevis Watts, formerly head of business banking in the UK, will re-join Triodos Bank effective from April 2016.

We will continue to be a reference point for sustainable banking, demonstrating its capacity as a powerful force for good and one that’s more relevant than ever.

Charles Middleton
Managing Director

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Galson Estate Trust (photo)

Galson Estate Trust (Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn) is a Community Development Trust covering the North side of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. The community bought the 56000 acre estate in 2007 under the community right to buy policy. The Galson area’s way of life is about the intricate interaction between a crofting lifestyle, a panoramic landscape and a diverse natural environment. The area boasts fantastic coastal scenery and white sands; large Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas; a variety of flora and fauna including golden eagles, fulmars and gannets; and, most importantly, a kindly, ‘down-to-earth’ community that works together to bring about a better future for themselves and future generations.

Galson Estate Trust work on a wide range of community projects, from energy efficiency schemes to tourism and youth projects. In 2015 Triodos Bank financed the construction and operation of two wind turbines. The Galson Estate Trust has plans to use the profits from the turbines to keep the community evolving. 

Food and farming

Nash Mountain Farm (photo)

Nash Mountain Farm is a fourth generation husband and wife family farming partnership over approximately 60 acres of land in South Pembrokeshire, Wales. The farm currently has a flock of 100 ewes. Triodos Bank provided funding for the purchase and installation at 50kW wind turbine which completed in July. The wind turbine is set to generate 20% more than the national average, and this green electricity feeds into the National Grid. The farm is now fully energised by the wind turbine, which will provide a dependable source of income to finance parts of the farm which are sensitive to market conditions. 

Arts and culture

Curzon Cinema (photo)

The Curzon Cinema has been at the centre of community life in Clevedon, North Somerset, for over a century. It is the oldest continually running cinema in the UK, and first started when the community used it to raise funds for the survivors of the Titanic. In 1995, when it was threatened with closure, the Clevedon community grouped together to claim The Curzon for their own, and a campaign to save the cinema was spearheaded. Today it’s a thriving organisation. Eighty volunteers keep The Curzon in tip top condition, including everything from selling popcorn to building maintenance.

Last year, the Curzon entered a new phase. Disused space was restored and converted into a new bar and restaurant, with the support of a Triodos Bank loan. The refurbishment has helped create a new hub in the town centre, while providing a valuable income for the cinema. 


Ambition East Midlands and Aspire Gloucestershire (photo)

P3 is a charity and social enterprise that believes everyone deserves a chance to be part of their community. Together with three other charities – CCP, YMCA Derbyshire and The Y – P3 has formed Ambition East Midlands and Aspire Gloucestershire; two new social enterprises to provide innovative and intensive support to homeless people in their local areas. Triodos Corporate Finance worked with the charities to structure the first ever social impact bonds (SIBs) to benefit from Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) in a bid to encourage more investment into social projects. SIBs work on a payment-by-results basis, so investors are only rewarded if a set of agreed social outcomes are met. The SIBs raised £910,000; capital which will enable Ambition and Aspire to support nearly 500 young homeless people in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Gloucestershire, giving them the chance to play a positive part in their communities and live fulfilling lives.