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Who We Are

History and Shareholders

Unity Trust Bank was born out of the simple idea that trade unions wanted a different type of bank – a bank that was concerned with the creation of the common good. Bringing together the values of trade unions and the management expertise of The Co-Operative Bank, Unity Trust Limited – as we were then known – was launched on the 1st May 1984.

  • 1984 – Our first mission was to make prudent, profitable commercial lending in the UK thereby supporting jobs, industries and the British economy
  • First few years spent developing banking facilities for our trade union shareholders and  providing additional services specifically to benefit trade unions and their members through a number of subsidiary businesses
  • During the 90s we increased our focus on the social economy, as society became increasingly concerned with fighting social and financial exclusion, which Unity supported by tailoring its products and services towards social organisations
  • At the start of the new millennium we began to innovate with services like Internet Banking and a dedicated telephone customer service team
  • We developed a new strategy in 2012 which saw us refocus our approach solely on the social economy, trade unions and wider civil society sectors, and we withdrew from providing services to purely commercial organisations creating no social benefit

Our founding statements are:


We continue to live by these principles today. Find out how in our About Us and Our Social Lending Impact sections.


Represented on the Board

  • Communication Workers’ Union
  • GMB
  • Unite the Union
  • The Co-operative Bank plc

Other Trade Union Shareholders

  • Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
  • Association of Teachers and Lecturers
  • Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union
  • Community
  • Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Fire Brigades Union
  • FDA
  • General Federation of Trade Unions
  • Musicians’ Union
  • National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers
  • National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers
  • National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
  • Nautilus International
  • National Union of Mineworkers
  • National Union of Teachers
  • Nationwide Group Staff Union
  • Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance
  • Prison Officers Association
  • Prospect
  • Public and Commercial Services Union
  • The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
  • Trades Union Congress
  • Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
  • UCU
  • Unity

Shareholders & Capital

Individual trades unions and trade union federations own 73.11% of the total equity capital of Unity Trust Bank plc (14.64% in ‘A’ shares and 58.47% in ‘C’ shares).  The Co-operative Bank plc, through its subsidiary Co-operative Commercial Limited, owns 26.66% (14.64% in ‘B’ shares and 12.02% in ‘C’ shares).

Certain individuals, including staff members, between them own 0.23% of the equity capital, all in ‘C’ shares. Total equity capital is £16,429,301.

The ‘A’ shares owned by trades unions and the ‘B’ shares owned by The Co-operative Bank plc have certain class rights attached to them concerning the election of directors and certain other matters referred to in the Articles of Association and relating to the control of the Bank.

Employee Shared Ownership Plan (ESOP)

In January 2013 the Bank established an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) enabling all qualifying staff to receive C Ordinary shares in the Bank. The initial distribution gifted to staff totalled 11,000 shares. Staff can also elect to receive further shares as part of the Bank’s annual Profit Sharing scheme.