Co-Op’s ethical policy turns away £700million of loans

16 July 2007
Since launching its ethical policy 15 years ago, the Co-Operative Bank has declined more than £700million worth of loans on ethical and ecological grounds.

The figures are proof that the Co-Op really is prepared to turn away business that conflicts with its Ethical Policy, launched in 1992.

Companies whose core activities contribute to climate change accounted for £325million worth of turned down loans – the main reasons being that they were involved in the extraction or production of fossil fuels (£109million), manufacture of harmful chemicals (£64m) and unsustainable fishing or deforestation (£30m).

Just over £147million of loans were turned down animal welfare grounds i.e. the fur trade, animal testing of cosmetics, blood sports and factory farming, and £71million of loans were turned down to companies involved in the transfer of arms to oppressive regimes (£71m).

But despite turning down £700million of loans, the Co-Op still argues that its policy is good for business; the bank’s corporate loan book has still grown by 250 per cent from an average of £571million in 1992 to £1.997 billion last year and research shows that customers do join he Co-Op purely on ethical grounds.

Jonathon Porritt Founder Director of Forum for the Future "After fifteen years, the Co-operative Bank's Ethical Policy remains at the leading edge of corporate ethics, and has provided a clear challenge to the rest of the sector that there are certain lines that should not be crossed. I was hugely impressed by this fifteen years ago and I still am today."

And Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) Chief Executive David Anderson said: “Over the last 15 years, our Ethical Policy has acted as a barometer of public opinion. Issues that our customers have expressed concern about have gone on to be reflected in wider societal changes.

“We’ve witnessed the end of cosmetic testing on animals in the UK; the introduction of legislation to phase out the manufacture of the most harmful chemicals; and fairtrade - something our customers have supported since 1995 - is now a mainstream brand. Of course, major challenges remain, and going forward we will continue to press for change on the issues our customers care about.”

Find out more about getting a Co-Op Loan