Lending falls but profits rise for building society

Dudley Building Society saw mortgage lending fall by more than £100 million last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dudley Building Society chief executive Jeremy Wood
Dudley Building Society chief executive Jeremy Wood

Lending was down from a record £125.1 million in 2019-2020 to just £21.3m for the year to the end of March.

The Brierley Hill-based society saw its pre-tax profit increase from £1.48m to £2.21m.

Total assets at the year end were £525.7m with reserves at £26.7m

Looking back over the challenging period, chief executive Jeremy Wood said it was a satisfactory year.

He said that although lending had been restricted during much of 2020, key financial ratios had all improved and the pandemic had actually inspired a closer relationship between the society, its customers and the local community.

“On a business level, whilst the pandemic might have curtailed our lending ambitions during 2020, the society has weathered the conditions extremely well. We also enabled members new and old to access accounts through an e-savings channel. Since its launch, take up and usage have been very encouraging.

"Decisions taken at the start of the pandemic gave the aociety increased capacity to maintain services through the branches and continue our policy of providing higher than average rates for savers.

"It also meant we could actively engage with borrowers financially affected by the pandemic and offer advice and support to them. Over 500 mortgage payment holidays were put in place during the period and we continue to reach out to borrowers who might be experiencing payment difficulties.

"Lending levels are increasing again and thanks to the dedication of our employees, the society’s whole proposition has proved to be resilient, even in the face of these extraordinary conditions.”

Mr Wood said that employees had taken steps to find out what they could provide for local hospitals.

"We were asked for washbags for staff looking after Covid-19 patients who need to shower after every shift. It is just one example of the society’s Giving Back programme which has helped us to foster closer relationships during this most difficult period.

"Covid-19 reminded us all how interdependent we are and how we need to continually strive to remember, that in the face of a crisis, we are immeasurably stronger when we join together," he added.

The 163-year-old society, which provides financial services on a local and national level, has around 35,000 members.

It has its head offices at Harbour Buildings, The Waterfront, and branches in Brierley Hill, Dudley, Gornal Wood, Kingswinford and Perton.

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