I was really pleased to be asked to go to the Norwich and Peterborough building society branch in Ipswich to help hand over some cheques to local charities, reports Labour's Parliamentary Candidate, David Ellesmere.
Like all building societies in the Yorkshire Building Society group, N&P run a scheme called “Small Change Big Difference” where savers donate the pence part of the interest they receive to charity.
Customers then get to nominate local charities which will benefit from the donations.
Charities that benefitted this year include: East Anglian Children’s Hospice, St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich Charioteers and Ipswich Lions.
Since the scheme started it has collected £2.6million for charity. It really demonstrates the value of building societies as mutual organisations, rooted in their communities.
In the 1980s and 1990s most building societies “de-mutualised” and became banks. None of them prospered. Abbey National, the first to go, ended up being taken over by Spanish bank Santander and now no longer exists as a brand. Northern Rock, Halifax and Bradford and Bingley all ended up having to be bailed out by the Government after the Credit Crunch and banking crash.
Those that stayed as building societies such as Nationwide and Yorkshire didn’t follow risky borrowing practices and didn’t need bailing out by the tax payers.
The savers and borrowers who voted for their building societies to de-mutualise may have thought they did well out of it, but we’ve all ended up paying the price in the long run.