Lloyds is to pay its first dividend in seven years, providing a welcome windfall for its three million shareholders including 240,000 Yorkshire investors who owned shares in Halifax Bank of Scotland prior to its takeover at the height of the banking crisis.
The £535m pay-out will be the first shareholder bonus since Lloyds was rescued by the taxpayer in 2008.
The pay-out follows a fourfold rise in Lloyds’ annual profits to £1.8bn in 2014, boosted by strong trading at Halifax, the group’s challenger brand.
250,000 people switched their bank account to Halifax in 2014, an increase of 6.1 per cent, bringing the total number of Halifax customers to 3.2 million.
Halifax’s managing director David Nicholson said: “Halifax is really delivering for its customers. We continue to attract customers by giving extra and offering great value. People trust the business. It’s a winning formula.
“We’ve focused on what customers want. We’re now seen as the best value for money lender. We’ve worked really hard to simplify the business and make sure processes work.”
He said that complaints have fallen significantly.
“Complaints are down 50 per cent. We had 1.1 complaints per thousand customers. We are industry leading. That’s less than half you’d expect to see for a big bank.”
Halifax’s mortgage book grew by 6.2 per cent to over £140bn and the brand helped 76,000 first time buyers get on the property ladder.
Mr Nicholson said that a third of the home buyers who have used the Government’s Help To Buy scheme did so through Halifax and the take-up has been spread throughout the country as opposed to the more affluent London and south east market.
The number of people signing up for Halifax’s saving scheme “Savers Prize Draw”, rose 25 per cent to 2.5 million.
Chancellor George Osborne said the dividend pay-out is good news for millions of savers who hold Lloyds shares or have money invested in Lloyds through their pensions.
“Today’s results are another major milestone in the recovery of the British economy from the great recession and the bank bailouts,” he said.
The bank disclosed an annual bonus pool of £369.5m, down 3.6 per cent on the previous year, and said its chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio received £11.5m for 2014.
This includes more than £7m from a long-term share-based plan which was linked to the bank’s performance for the three years since 2012.
Mr Horta-Osorio said the capital position of the group has improved significantly, enabling the resumption of dividend payments.
The improved annual profit came despite a £2.2bn hit to cover the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI).
Total PPI costs for the final quarter of 2014 amounted to £700m and takes the total set aside for the scandal to more than £12bn.
The bank also incurred £925m of charges from regulatory and conduct related issues, including its £217m fine for the fixing of the Libor rate.