"When we launched Living on your side last year, we wanted to make sure that the strategy was closely aligned with our wider corporate goals. Our members and employees confirmed this approach when they told us to focus on areas where we could offer the most expertise and have the most influence and impact. It is our belief that citizenship should be an integral part of our daily business and a sustainable commitment to our employees, members and wider society.
Living On Your Side clearly reflects the core focus of our business; mortgages, savings and serving our members. So in achieving our citizenship targets; to help 750,000 people into a home of their own, empowering one million people to start saving and investing and unlocking £15 million in to local communities, we will also achieve a positive impact in the areas where we operate.
Underpinning these activities is our continued commitment to run our business in an ethical and responsible way. After the many damaging headlines over the past few years, the financial services sector as a whole is now very focused on improving its reputation for responsible business. At Nationwide we are proud to have maintained our ethical approach throughout and recognise that we have a part to play, as a leader and sharer of best practice, in shaping a new financial services sector focused on transparency, honesty and long term benefits.
Our progress against these targets this year has been very strong, particularly given the challenging economic landscape.
Economic conditions remain a significant factor affecting the housing market and housing supply remains a key challenge. Nationwide has played a major role in the UK housing market, with a particular emphasis on mortgages to first time buyers. During the past year we have provided over 42,000 first time buyer mortgages. This equates to providing almost one in five of all first time buyer mortgages over the past 12 months.
Saving from an early age continues to be at the heart of our citizenship approach and we remain committed to encouraging a savings culture and supporting financial capability. Through our new partnership with National Numeracy we are looking to improve numeracy skills in the UK, the lack of which can be a barrier to good money management. Last year we also provided evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Capability and are pleased that this contributed towards the Government’s announcement of a consultation on the inclusion of financial education in the National Curriculum.
It is great to see how Living on your side is being met with such enthusiasm and support. In a single year, 1.3 million of our members got actively involved with the agenda and our employee involvement jumped from 6% to 30%. Achieving Platinum status and Highest New Entrant in the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index was also pleasing recognition of the progress we have made. Whilst there is so much more for us to do, we can be confident in the strong foundations we have put in place as a sector leader in corporate citizenship and I look forward to building upon these over the coming years."