Unity is a specialist bank for the social economy and wider civil society. With over 30 years experience in the sector, we provide tailored day-to-day banking and finance to charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, voluntary and community organisations, trade unions, councils, housing associations and more.
As well as day-to-day banking services and savings accounts designed to meet the unique needs of these organisations we also provide flexible borrowing options and are committed to lending £100m to social economy organisations between 2013 and 2015.
Unity was established in 1984 by the trade union movement as a different type of bank – a bank identified with and embracing the philosophy of the common good and one that would not principally be influenced by the maximisation of profit. Unity would be aligned to the trade union values of job creation and retention and making our communities across the UK better places to live.
Since then we have worked to achieve the best possible social change and benefit for our customers, local communities and wider society. Creating positive social impact through our business activity remains a core focus today.
Here are some of the practical ways we drive our social impacts:
- Lending – we focus the use of our customers’ deposits to fund lending where there are clear social impacts creating jobs and supporting local communities
- Living Wage – we’re proud to be the first bank to be Living Wage accredited and the Living Wage Champion for the West Midlands
- Fair Tax – we value transparency and have pioneered fair tax practices via the Fair Tax campaign, being the first bank to be accredited the Fair Tax Mark
- Staff Volunteering – we offer all our staff five paid days a year to volunteer in local communities
- Staff Ownership – we empower our people with the opportunity to own shares in the business
- Apprenticeships – we’ve welcomed nine young people on to our scheme since 2012 and three are now in full time permanent roles in the Bank.
As well as being socially responsible we are financially sustainable. Whilst profit is not our principal driver it’s still important that we operate efficiently to enable us to re-invest in the business, provide a return for our civil society shareholders and, crucially for a bank, to increase our capital strength.
We have never traded in sub-prime investments or the complex financial instruments that have resulted in difficulties for many banks. The loans we do make are covered almost three times by customer deposits, all of which makes us less vulnerable to fluctuations in the money markets and therefore more financially stable.
High levels of customer satisfaction
We’re committed to providing high levels of customer service that will keep our customers satisfied, now and in the future:
- When you call us a real person answers the phone, not an automated message!
- All our teams are based in the UK
- Over 90% of telephone queries are dealt with by the person that initially answers your call
- Calls are normally answered in less than 10 seconds
In fact, we’re proud to say that in the Charity Finance Banking Survey 2015, Unity was rated top in eight out of nine categories:
- Sector knowledge
- Availability of finance
- Commitment to CSR
- Relationship manager
- Fees and charges
- Internet services
- Telephone services
- Branch services
We also came second in the remaining category – interest rates. These results put us ahead of all the major high street banks and build on the success of the 2014 survey where we were first in four categories.