Shropshire Star

Mortgage lending down but profits rise for West Brom

There was a fall in the level of new mortgage lending by West Bromwich Building Society in its latest financial year.

Chief executive Jonathan Westhoff

It was down from £756 million in 2021-2022 to £691m for the year to the end of March for the 174-year-old society.

Pre-tax profit improved from £23.2m to £31.8m.

The society, which has more than 30 branches in the Black Country, Birmingham, Shropshire and Wales, said 67 per cent of loans for house purchase supported first-time buyers onto the property ladder ­— up from 54 per cent for the previous year.

Chief executive Jonathan Westhoff said: “It’s great to report a strong performance as we continue to work through significant challenges in our external environment. Whilst our financial performance demonstrates our underlying strength and resilience, and helps us to drive forward on our Purpose-led agenda, perhaps most satisfaction comes from what we have delivered for our members, demonstrating the tangible benefits of being with a mutual that is true to its purpose.

"Over the last year, we’ve focused on ensuring our members enjoy the benefits of belonging to the West Brom. We’ve taken action to support our borrowing members by becoming the first lender in the market to align our approach for existing members on our standard variable rate to that of new mortgage members. This new approach means that all owner occupier mortgage members reverting to SVR at the end of their product term will have their rate determined by their loan to value. Around 90 per cent of people on our SVR saw savings on their interest rates, with the majority seeing a reduction of 0.75 per cent.

"This provided real relief for many of our members at a time when mortgage costs are increasing."

Mr Westhoff added that the society had also innovated by having standard charging structures amended to return value.

"By negotiating a reduced commission and agreeing a profit share arrangement that is distributed back to our policy holders, members taking their home and contents insurance through the West Brom benefitted, on average, with a circa eight per cent reduction in their insurance premiums.

"For our savers, who this year have helped 3,413 members buy their first home, we’ve continued to provide ‘best buy’ fixed savings rates and have passed on rates that were almost double the average rates paid by the market. This means we saw the mutual benefit increase to £33.2m this financial year, more than three times more than last year."

Across the winter months more than 70 per cent of staff benefitted from a one-off payment of £1,200 to help with cost of living rises. This sits alongside its Financial Hardship Support Fund, which exists to offer support in the event of a sudden, unexpected financial burden.

"Living costs look set to remain elevated for some time to come, maintaining the pressure on households and businesses alike. We will continue to use our financial strength responsibly to support our members, colleagues and communities through these challenging times, helping people to stay in their homes and save for the future where possible.

"Recent years have built a significant momentum, not measured by our size or profitability, but by the true value we deliver to our members, and I look forward to working with my new and existing colleagues to deliver even more purpose-led innovations as we approach 175 years of mutuality at the West Brom," added Mr Westhoff.

The pre-tax profit included the net recovery of £5.6m of previously written off costs relating to the development of an online savings platform.

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