Annual General Meeting
Ahead of the meeting, we asked members to send in any questions they had for the Board of Directors. Below are some of the questions sent in, along with responses:
Q1. Do you see the Society reverting to how it operated before the pandemic?
We quickly moved almost all head office staff to home-based working when the pandemic hit. At the same time the branches had to adapt to COVID-safe working and we reduced their hours to allow smaller cells of staff in branch and to allow cleaning. The pandemic has shown how we can be efficient and give staff a better work/life balance. We will not close any branches but expect ‘hybrid’ home and office working to be a permanent feature.
Q2. Does MHBS have an environmental policy and a deadline to achieve net carbon zero, and is your electricity sourced from 100% renewable energy?
The Society has for many years taken steps to reduce its environmental impacts. Our physical AGM packs for example, were previously mailed to c.30,000 members, because of our efforts to work with members, it is now emailed to c.50% of our members, significantly reducing paper usage (which is FSC standard).
In 2020 MHBS switched to an electric vehicle and completed conversions to low energy office lighting. This year a project is considering the use of rain water within our office buildings along with other energy savings. In 2020, 80% of our staff worked from home, significantly reducing the organisation’s impact and this is likely to continue going forward. In addition MHBS’ support for charitable good causes has a strong environmental theme including tree planting and river clean-ups.
A Board-approved formal Environmental Policy is planned this year and will include our deadline to achieve net carbon zero.
Q3. The Bank of England has talked about a negative base rate – what would this mean for members of the Society?
The Bank has asked the industry to consider the impact of moving base rate from 0.1% to a rate below zero. They want to explore whether such a move might boost the economy. We have always protected savers from the full impact of base rate cuts and if the base rate was cut to less than zero, we would continue to do this. We would not consider applying negative rates to savings accounts.