Leeds Building Society gains recognition for commitment to pay taxes

Leeds Building Society has become the first national high street financial institution to be certified as a business committed to paying the right amount of corporation tax.

The Fair Tax Mark said the building society was the latest in a growing number of organisations achieving its certification.

Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Mark, said: “At a time when the public is growing used to headlines about big corporates shifting profits to tax havens and minimising the contributions they make to the public purse, it’s refreshing to see a high street name letting customers know that it’s proud to pay its taxes.

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“Leeds Building Society is taking corporate responsibility around tax transparency seriously, making it clear where it generates income and pays taxes.”

Richard Fearon, deputy chief executive at Leeds Building Society, said: “We’re proud to be the first national high street financial institution to achieve the Fair Tax Mark.

“We recognise the public services paid for through tax benefit our members, colleagues and communities, and help create the strong foundations we need to thrive as a business in the long term.

“That’s why we’re committed to paying our fair share and reporting our tax affairs transparently to our stakeholders.”

Leeds Building Society is the UK’s fifth biggest building society. The society was established in 1875 and was originally named the Leeds and Holbeck (Permanent) Building Society. The first head office was based at the Mechanics Institute in Holbeck between 1875 and 1886.

The society has operated in Leeds city centre since 1886, and it acquired its current head office site in 1924. In March 2005, members voted to change its name to Leeds Building Society.

The society has enjoyed significant growth under its current chief executive, Peter Hill.

Mr Hill, who has held the role since 2011, will retire in February next year having doubled the society’s assets and profits during his time in the role, as well as having added 450 people to its head count. He will be succeeded by Mr Fearon.

The society recently reported record membership of 809,000, as well as a 13 per cent growth in its assets to £19.5bn in its interim results.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Hill said the role had been “his dream job”.

“When I came into the business it was quite a challenging period with lots of things to do, ” he said.

“But I came in with a plan and a vision. We always talked here about a 10-year plan. In the first half of this year, many of those objectives came to fruition.

“Now is the time to pass on the society, in great shape, to the next generation.”

“To lead an institution like this and achieve all of your ambitions is an incredibly rare opportunity.”

Leeds Building Society helped more than 20,000 people with mortgages during the period, including 5,800 first-time buyers, with new residential mortgage lending of £1.8bn, down from £2.1bn in 2017.

It attracted more than 42,000 new savers, increasing retail savings balances to £13.9bn from £12.5bn.

The Fair Tax Mark certification scheme was launched in February 2014. It seeks to encourage and recognise organisations that pay the right amount of corporation tax “at the right time and in the right place”.

It’s the only scheme of its kind in the UK. The Fair Tax Mark is published by Fair Tax Mark Ltd, a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society. The majority of the Fair Tax Mark’s income is derived from trading activity and the assessment and licensing of business to its accreditation standards. It has also received support from a number of organisations, including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

LEEDS Building Society joins an impressive list of major corporate names that have gained certification from the Fair Tax Mark.

The Ecology Building Society, which is based in Silsden, West Yorkshire was the first building society in the UK to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark, in recognition of its ethical policies.

Ecology offers ethical savings accounts that fund mortgages for properties and projects supporting individuals and communities to adopt green building practices, improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock and to live or work in a way that promotes a sustainable economy.

Other accredited organisations include the Midcounties Co-operative and energy firm SSE.