Virgin Money launches comprehensive sustainability strategy

  • Virgin Money launches strategy to embed sustainability in everything it does
  • Ten-year plan to make positive social and environmental impact
  • 2030 aspirations include:
    • Net zero operational and supplier carbon emissions
    • Reducing carbon emissions across financing activities by at least 50%
    • Ensuring no Virgin Money customers pay a poverty premium

Virgin Money has set out its sustainability strategy, which outlines its ambition to make a positive social and environmental impact though embedding its Purpose of ‘making you happier about money’ across all its business activities.

The bank’s new approach - which follows the acquisition of Virgin Money by CYBG in 2018 - encompasses its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda and incorporates four key pillars, which include ‘putting our (carbon) foot down’, recognising the urgent need to reduce negative impact on the planet; ‘build a brighter future’, focusing on creating products and services that help its customers make a positive impact on society and the environment; ‘open doors’, designed to encourage greater diversity in its business, as well as supporting the sustainable practices and economic activity that create shared prosperity for all; and ‘straight up ESG’ which recognises the importance of transparency in how Virgin Money pursues its sustainability agenda.

These pillars are backed in turn by a series of commitments and aspirations over the next 10 years. The aspirations for 2030 include achieving net zero operational and supplier carbon emissions; at least halving the carbon emissions across everything Virgin Money finances; ensuring that none of its customers will be paying the poverty premium, which is the extra cost that low income households have to pay to access essential services; and linking variable pay to the progress made against its sustainability agenda.

Virgin Money has already made good progress across these four areas. In support of ‘build a brighter future’, Virgin Money, from a starting point where less than 0.1% of customer lending assets are to carbon-related businesses, became the first UK bank member of the Future-Fit Development Council and has been working with Future-Fit to build a benchmarking tool for businesses to measure their progress against meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a signatory to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Banking (UN PRB), Virgin Money is committed to aligning its business with both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and has joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) to develop a harmonised approach to assess greenhouse gas emissions from its loans, focusing first on mortgages and agriculture.

On ‘open doors’, it is partnering with Fair by Design to develop new, targeted solutions to those impacted by the poverty premium. This follows the launch of its market-leading basic bank account - M Account - in July 2020. Supporting its ‘straight up ESG’ approach, Virgin Money continues to make tangible progress on its commitment to comply with the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, including the addition of an ESG scorecard into long term incentive plans in 2020.

Emma Tottenham, Group Corporate Communications and Sustainability Director at Virgin Money, said: “Our new strategy provides a foundation to firmly embed sustainability in everything we do. We have focused our approach on where we believe we can make the biggest difference and we will work with customers, colleagues and communities to encourage sustainable practices and economic activity that creates shared prosperity, helps to open doors for everyone in society and safeguards the future of our planet.”

Further information about the ESG strategy can be found here : www.virginmoneyukplc.com/corporate-sustainability/