Strong Start To The Year For Yorkshire Building Society With Record Lending To First-time Buyers
Yorkshire Building Society today announced its half-yearly results for 2021, detailing its financial performance and work to support customers, colleagues and communities.
Profit before tax of £147.7m (30 June 2020: £67.3m) and core operating profit of £134.9m (30 June 2020: £74.7m).
Provided 41,750 residential mortgages during the first six months of 2021 (30 June 2020: 31,866).
Supported first-time buyers with a record 9,931 mortgages (30 June 2020: 2,964 first-time buyer mortgages), more than tripling the number of people the Society has helped to become homeowners year-on-year.
Mortgage balances increased by £2.2bn to £41.0bn (31 December 2020: £38.8bn).
Supported savers through interest rates which beat the market average by 0.26%,increasing rates twice for existing savers and offering our loyal members exclusive, market-leading accounts.
Saving balances increased by £1.8bn to £35.2bn (31 December 2020: £33.4bn).
Common Equity Tier 1 ratio at 16.6% (31 December 2020: 16.7%).
Mike Regnier, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Building Society, said:
“Despite the uncertain external environment, I’m pleased to report that Yorkshire Building Society has made a strong start to the year. The housing and mortgage markets have been strong in the first six months of 2021 and remain positive as we enter the economic recovery period.
“This has enabled us to end the first half of the year with good profit levels and strong capital and liquidity positions. We have demonstrated efficiency through growing the Society in terms of both mortgage and savings balances whilst maintaining costs at a level similar to last year.
“These results have only been possible because of the hard work, commitment and resilience of our colleagues. They have supported our customers and each other in an exemplary way throughout this difficult period. I’m incredibly proud of, and grateful to, every one of them.
“As an organisation, we want to make a difference to our members’ lives and one of the highlights of our results is that we’ve helped 10,000 first-time buyers to become homeowners. This is the largest number of people we’ve helped on to the housing ladder in six months of any year. We’ll continue to support people to buy homes throughout the rest of the year and beyond.
“The low interest rate environment continues to be tough for savers. To reward our savers and make sure we are sharing our Society’s success with our members, we have consistently delivered rates higher than the market average. This included increasing our rates for many of our existing savers twice in the first half of the year and launching loyalty products for members who had been with the Society for more than a year.
“The economic impact of the pandemic brought into focus the very real and serious difficulties many people are facing around financial wellbeing, employment and skills. In response, we have pledged an additional £1.8m to our social purpose programmes over the next two years. We are proud to be progressing our social purpose agenda which will support people who find themselves in challenging situations. Our partnerships with Age UK, Citizens Advice and Good Things Foundation, along with our renewed commitment to our flagship financial education scheme Money Minds, aim to make a real difference to tens of thousands of people.”
Supporting customers, colleagues and communities through the pandemic:
The Society’s priority throughout the pandemic has been to support its customers, colleagues and communities. Its focus has been on helping customers facing income challenges to stay in their homes, supporting first-time buyers to get on to the housing ladder, ensuring members’ savings are safe, passing back value to members and looking after colleagues’ health and wellbeing.
Delivering high standards of customer service is crucial, particularly during this time. The Society increased its Net Promoter Score in 2021 to +54 (31 December 2020: +53)[ii], demonstrating its commitment to delivering on service when its members need it the most.
The mutual continues to offer unlimited dependents and carers leave to colleagues at full pay and anyone who is shielding, unwell or needs to self-isolate and cannot work from home qualifies for paid sick leave at their full salary. The mutual did not call on the government’s job retention scheme.
Housing market activity has significantly increased since Stamp Duty Land Tax relief was introduced in July 2020 and as buyers search for more space after spending more time in their homes during a year of lockdowns. First-time buyers and those with lower deposits faced particular challenges around securing mortgages as many lenders withdrew from higher loan-to-value lending during the pandemic. The Society has sought to support first-time buyers and home-movers during this fast-paced and challenging external environment.
In the first half of the year, the Society provided a total of 41,750 residential mortgages (30 June 2020: 31,866), contributing to total mortgage balances increasing by £2.2bn to £41.0bn, with gross lending at £5.9bn (30 June 2020: £2.8bn).
To support first-time buyers in becoming homeowners, the Society offered mortgages at 90% loan-to-value and was the first lender to return to 95% loan-to-value lending. The Society financed 6,995 residential mortgages at 90% and 95% LTV in the first half of the year (30 June 2020: 4,345).
This contributed towards the Society financing a record 9,931 mortgages in the first six months of a year for people buying their first home (30 June 2020: 2,964). This was more than triple the number of first-time buyers the Society supported in the first six months of 2020 and resulted in almost one in four residential mortgages provided by the Society helping someone into their first home.
Throughout the pandemic, the Society provided 40,416 mortgage payment deferrals to help those suffering an income shortfall as a result of the pandemic. The vast majority of those who received a mortgage payment deferral have now resumed their normal repayments.
Savers continued to experience challenges, with Bank of England rate remaining at an all-time low of 0.1%. The Society has sought to support its savers by passing back additional interest throughout the first half of 2021.
The Society supported members in building financial resilience, opening 152,984 savings accounts in the first half of 2021 (30 June 2020: 105,283). Total savings balances increased by £1.8bn to £35.2bn (31 December 2020: £33.4bn).
In January and June 2021, the Society increased interest rates on the majority of its off-sale variable rate savings accounts, benefitting more than 1.6 million members. It also introduced loyalty products including an ISA and a market-leading regular saver to say thank you to its members who had been with the Society for more than a year.
These initiatives contributed to the Society’s average variable savings rates beating the market average by 0.26%1 (31 December 2020: 0.05%).
The pandemic has highlighted the challenges many people face around skills, employment and financial education and wellbeing. In response to this, the Society has increased its support for communities, committing more than £1.8m of extra investment to its communities over two years as part of its social purpose agenda.
Supporting local and national projects across these key themes, the Society’s social purpose programmes aim to help people at every stage of their lives, from children to those in retirement.
For older people, the pandemic has presented financial challenges, with some having to delay planned retirements or increase pension withdrawals to survive financially. In November 2020, the Society launched a new partnership with Age UK to support people in later life with financial wellbeing. Over the next two and a half years, fundraising will support the Building Better Lives programme to help prevent 4,700 older people reaching crisis point.
In the first six months of this year, the programme has helped 269 people access tailored financial advice. Age UK have assisted 199 people to submit claims for benefits to which they are entitled, helping to access a total of £720,530 in financial support, an average of £2,678 per person supported.
Families with low incomes have found the past year particularly challenging, with half of those earning less than £15,000 saying their level of disposable income has fallen during the pandemic. To support families, in May the Society launched a new partnership with Citizens Advice. This has seen six Yorkshire branches host the expert advisers who provide free and confidential assistance to both members and non-members. In the first two weeks, this project was fully subscribed and had helped 49 people with a range of issues.
Young people have faced some of greatest adverse impacts from the pandemic. They have been more likely to lose their job or face a cut in income and 81% of 14 to 18-year-olds concerned about the effect on their education.
To support young people, the Society re-launched its flagship financial education programme, Money Minds in June and hopes to expand its reach significantly through digital resources later this year.
Closer to home, the Society is working with organisations in its home city of Bradford to help improve the skills and employability of its communities.
Digital skills are essential to employability. As part of improving skills and employment, the Society is working with Good Things Foundation to help digitally disengaged people in Bradford with these essential employment skills.
The Society also is partnering with Bradford schools this autumn to launch a programme to help young people from some of the most disadvantaged areas in the city region raise aspirations, build skills and prepare for the workplace.
The economy has been dominated by the pandemic, with lockdowns and other measures restricting and disrupting activity. This has impacted overall economic output and severely affected sectors including retail, travel and hospitality. Since the relaxation of lockdown, activity in these sectors has considerably picked up.
Paradoxically, throughout the pandemic, the housing market has fared well. The dual stimulus of the Stamp Duty Land Tax relief and support for incomes through the Government’s furlough scheme, combined with buyers reassessing their housing needs, has seen the market on an upward trajectory, which is only now beginning to cool as the first stamp duty relief deadline ends. Space is at a premium for buyers, with prices on detached homes increasing by 11.3% over the past year, with flats and maisonettes experiencing a 6.5% increase over the same period.
The Society expects the current market conditions to remain the same for at least the next few months. Activity may taper off in September when the Government support for jobs finishes and the tax relief on home purchases ends.
The mortgage market is likely to remain highly competitive for the rest of the year. The Society remains keen to support all homebuyers, including those buying their first home, in 2021.