NATIONWIDE Building Society saw profits soar this year – but benefits to members tumbled, something it blamed on low interest rates.
Profit jumped from £469 million last year to £790 million this time. It set aside £190 million to deal with loan defaults, but insists arrears remain low.
Chief executive Joe Garner said: “This year has shown the financial strength of the building society mutual model. It has been a tough year, one that tested the resilience of people and businesses.”
Garner insisted he is more optimistic about the future than he has been for a while, since the virus appears to be under control.
He told the Standard: “The biggest thing we should all be worrying about is climate change. We need to get in shape now for that. We should encourage people to green their homes.”
It puts benefits to members of £265 million, well below the target of £400 million, due to lower savings rates.
Garner added: “Covid has changed the way we are living, working and spending. People are re-evaluating where and how they want to live.”
Nationwide has just moved into new London offices in Holborn, with a capacity of 1200.
It expects staff to come back slowly, and flexibly. “We have all missed going to Pret, but we can give people the flexibility not to have to sweat it out on the Tube,” said Garner.
The lender added that those who struggled financially during the pandemic were helped with 256,000 mortgage payment holidays and 105,000 payment breaks for loans and credit cards.