Do organisations in our industry have a moral responsibility to try and improve the world?

It’s perhaps not a question which many of us ask as we go about our day-to-day business, but I believe that won’t be the case for too much longer.

The rising importance of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) issues, particularly for investors, makes it more pressing for people to consider the impact which their actions – or the lack of them – have on the world around them.

While some companies are still taking a ‘tick box’ approach to ESG, many are becoming much more sophisticated and exacting when it comes to investments. As a result, projects and schemes which do not come up to scratch in terms of their positive impacts on society are getting increasingly short shrift.

However, despite these laudable intentions, there is still a danger that even well-meaning projects which are backed with a good level of funding can fall short.

A recent report from an all-party group of MPs found that the Government’s current Levelling Up policies were not making much headway in some of the country’s most “left behind” areas.

Identifying a total of 225 neighbourhoods in England as “left behind”, the report said these places continue to experience high levels of deprivation and community need and low levels of investment and resources.

The MPs said that one of the major problems facing “left behind” areas is that attempts to improve the communities tend to be made on a top-down, national level, which can mean local needs are not properly addressed and local people do not feel like they are in control of how money is spent.

Paul Howell, the Conservative MP for Sedgefield and co-chair of the all-party group, said the correct approach had to be to “give communities the capacity to do things themselves”.

I couldn’t agree more.

This is one of the key reasons and guiding principles which we follow at GB Bank.

We were set up with the express purpose of making a difference in the communities that need it most by investing in the expertise and experience of local SME property developers and investors.

These are the people who understand their communities best, who appreciate local needs and concerns and who know how to turn ideas into reality.

We work with them via our network of local Relationship Managers who are experts not just in finance but also in their local areas, and we take a flexible approach to funding so that the finances fit the project rather than the other way round.

So far we’ve helped on everything from assisted living accommodation for adults with learning difficulties and affordable accommodation to expanding a chain of children’s nurseries and breathing new life into a neglected high street.

While relatively small compared to grand property schemes, these developments are making a real difference in their communities.

They’re also helping to power our own progress as GB Bank. We have ambitious plans to fund many more transformative developments across the country as we look to grow further and continue trying to make the world that little bit better.

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Happy National Savings Week!

We’ve been celebrating National Savings Week with our customers with a reminder of how their money is well protected at GB Bank and how the money has supported community developments across the UK.

Savings worth savouring

Our savings accounts have been incredibly popular, thanks to our highly competitive savings rates.  However, the money has not only been working hard for our savers’ pockets, it has also been working hard for our communities.

Since we launched in August 2022, money invested in our savings accounts has helped to build sought-after residential housing, remodel derelict commercial units at a business park, build much-needed social housing and transform retail units on the high street, and much more!

Thanks to the lending which our savings accounts help to support, we have been able to be part of a whole host of amazing projects, here’s just a few of them:

Thank you again to our customers for saving with us at GB Bank. We couldn’t do what we do without your support and your backing.

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By Rob Lankey

It will not have escaped the notice of any Moneyfacts readers that the UK property market is facing a lot of challenges at the moment.

With the Bank of England keeping rates at a 15-year high and construction material inflation running into double digits, it isn’t an easy time to be a property developer at the moment (if it ever was!)

In a rapidly shifting market, developers are having to think and act fast and be very flexible in their approach and this is one of the factors in the continuing rise in the popularity of bridging finance.

Bridging loans used to be thought of in some circles as the finance of last resort for developers who were stretched for cash and racing against time.

But as the UK property market continues on its unpredictable path, bridging solutions are emerging as one of the best ways to negotiate the minefield of modern development.

What’s more, bridging finance is helping to breathe new life into the market while also providing numerous benefits.

For borrowers, bridging finance offers unparalleled flexibility and speed. Traditional mortgage applications can be cumbersome and time-consuming, often taking months to secure. In contrast, bridging loans can be arranged in a matter of days, allowing borrowers to seize time-sensitive opportunities.

At GB Bank, we’ve combined this flexibility internally with investment in technology and streamlined processes combined with professional services partners to turn around some bridging finance solutions in less than a week.

Such speed can be crucial in situations where time is of the essence, which is often the case with property projects in the current economic climate.

We’ve seen a number of cases where developments have got part way through and then have had to stop due to financial issues or projects where properties have only been partially completed as construction companies have succumbed to cost pressures.

In situations like these, the clock is ticking and certainty is in short supply, so the timely arrival of finance to kickstart development is absolutely crucial.

Another advantage of bridging finance is its versatility. It can be used for various purposes, not just buying properties or development land.

At GB Bank, we’ve developed a whole range of bridging solutions for both residential and commercial properties and we’ve seen our finance used for everything from completing a part-built home to opening up a dormant high street unit.

With these kind of examples, it’s easy to see why bridging finance is having such a moment. It is actively contributing to the overall health of the UK property market in helping to facilitate property transactions that might otherwise have stalled or not occurred at all.

This matters not just on a financial level, but also for people and communities across the country.

In many cases, the property transactions being brought into being by bridging finance solutions are helping to create much-needed residential accommodation and facilities.

For example, we have recently completed our largest bridging deal to date to provide a multi-million-pound lending facility for a project to create over 100 affordable homes in the West Midlands.

The timeliness which the bridging finance solution presented was crucial in this case because of the need to support the redemption of an existing lending facility which was due to expire.

In cases like this, and many others across the country, bridging finance is really living up to its name by breaking down divisions and helping to ensure that property and people are brought together.

* Rob Lankey is Chief Commercial Officer at GB Bank, which offers flexible finance solutions to SME property developers and investors.

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THE North East’s newest bank has been putting its purpose-driven values into action with over £6m worth of investments in its regional heartland in the past year.

GB Bank, which is based in Middlesbrough, received its full banking licence in August 2022.

Since then, the Bank has been delivering on its promises of building and regenerating commercial and residential properties in local communities right across the region.

The Bank has backed experienced SME property developers and investors by funding residential and commercial projects everywhere from Morpeth to Bishop Auckland, providing over £6m worth of vital approved finance to help kick-start or refurbish developments.

The North East investments form part of almost £60m of approved lending across the country and over £32m of new loans out of the door over the past 10 months.

GB Bank CEO and co-founder, Stephen Lancaster, said: “When we started the Bank, we said it was driven by its purpose – to build better futures for the communities who need it most.

“Just over a year into our life as a fully licensed bank, I’m delighted to say that thanks to the hard work of our fantastic team and the vision and determination of our customers, we are helping to do exactly that.

“Our key focus is to provide lending solutions to help bring much needed community developments to life.

“This has been the case with our lending in the North East and throughout the country, which has taken in projects from Northumberland to Norfolk and everywhere in between, but as a bank based and built in the North East, it has been particularly pleasing for us to have made a difference in this region.”

On the residential development side, GB Bank recently provided one of its residential bridging solutions to Newcastle-based developer Modo Bloc to help bring two Gateshead properties back to life.

The Bank managed to turn the deal around from initial enquiry to drawdown in less than six weeks. 

The two properties are now being refurbished and brought up to a higher standard of accommodation and their prominent location will mean they can be retained as a long-term investment for the borrowers.

The funding package is also set to unlock further community investment since Modo Bloc donate £2,000 to homeless charity Oasis Community Housing for every new house or two flats that they sell.

In Northumberland, bridging finance from GB Bank is helping complete a property which has lain unfinished for over two years.

A funding package for experienced property developers Dale and Jo Robinson is enabling them to finish building the final property on a housing development set in Mitford, near Morpeth.

Dale and Jo had originally gained the planning for the single property as part of an overall planning approval for the whole of the scheme which was created by a local developer.  They subsequently sold their land with planning approval to another local developer to receive payment once the completed property had been sold.

However, this home was only partly completed before work was stopped in 2021, leaving it the only unfinished house on the development. It can now be finished with the help of GB Bank’s funding.

The Middlesbrough-based bank is also helping to finance commercial developments in the region.

The Bank provided bridging finance to enable a previously vacant unit in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, to be refurbished and brought back into use.

GB Bank agreed the financing with developer Ellway Group, which is leasing the unit to a business, helping breathe new life back into Newgate Street in the town centre.

Stephen Lancaster said: “We’ve been lucky enough to work on deals all over the country and it’s great to see some of these community regeneration projects start to come to life.

“However, this is just the start for GB Bank. We have ambitious plans to fund many more transformative developments in the North East and across the country and we can’t wait to continue this fantastic work.”

Further information on GB Bank’s purpose can be found at Our Purpose – GB Bank

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Let’s be honest, we could have all done with escaping the British weather this summer!  

As a bank on a mission to build a better future in regions that need it most, we often talk about our commitment to building and regenerating communities externally. 

But what are we doing internally to help grow and nurture our own GB Bank community? 

One thing that makes GB Bank special is our wonderful team. And it is important that we always look for ways to demonstrate our trust and help our team feel fulfilled in all areas of life. We believe that our people know how and when they work best and providing flexibility enables them to find a productive rhythm between their priorities at work and at home – This is one of the reasons why GB Bank was recognised by Flexa as being one of the Top 100 most flexible employers in the world!

 As part of this, we’ve enabled ‘Work from Anywhere’ leave so our team are encouraged to work from a location abroad or elsewhere in the UK for a set period each year. 

But don’t just take our word for it….From Teesside to Texas, savings accounts to sailing the Turkish coast, hear from some of our team members where they have ‘Worked from Anywhere’ this summer. 

Head of Treasury in Turkey 

Eddie Trahearn, our Head of Treasury, used his leave to sail around the beautiful Turkish coast. He said: “I enjoyed a wonderful new experience and learned more about sailing at the same time as completing work commitments – I found out that sailing can be exhausting but it was also a great way to switch off and de-stress from work as you really need to concentrate. 

“Working from Anywhere really allows you to spend precious time doing things you like whilst also performing optimally for GB Bank. I split my time by combining annual leave and Working From Anywhere – this allowed me to have the experience for longer but still gave me time to fully switch off and enjoy it as a holiday too.

“The change of scenery also led to some better idea generation, clarity of thinking and clearing of brain fog.”

Teesside to Texas 

Head of Information Management, Maria Laden, has utilised the scheme on two separate occasions to visit her son, daughter-in-law and gorgeous new-born grandson, Duke, in Texas. 

Maria said: “As my grandson is still a very young baby it was wonderful to be able to utilise Work From Anywhere so I could spend precious time with him during his first months, and to also help my daughter-in-law with our new baby, which gave her a break. 

“I combined Working From Anywhere with my annual leave.  As Texas is six hours behind the UK it allowed me to join work from 12pm UK time each day (6am Texas time), complete 3hrs 30 mins Work From Anywhere and then take annual leave to enjoy the rest of the day with my daughter-in-law and grandson.

“Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to combine a visit with my family and work, working from anywhere also allowed me to save enough annual leave to enable me to have a relaxing non-work-related holiday just for me. It’s been a real win-win all round!”

Sarah’s seaside retreat 

Sarah John, our Company Secretary, was in the process of selling her house and renovating a new home. Unfortunately, the renovation fell behind schedule and the new home was not ready to move into when the other house’s sale was completed. 

Sarah explained: “Rather than risk the sale, Work from Anywhere allowed me and my family to be able to rent a cottage by the coast for a week where I was able to work remotely while our new home progressed to a liveable state.

“In between working hours, we were able to go for lovely walks on the beach with our dog and enjoy the good weather. It was fantastic to be able to have a change of scenery and enjoy a much-needed break from moving home, the renovations and all the dust!” 

Sunshine and family time for Graham 

Our Financial Crime Manager, Graham Goodwin, got a break from the weather this summer with a trip over to Spain and our Work from Anywhere policy meant he could attend his son’s wedding in South Africa. 

Graham said: “The scheme enabled me to work full time from our holiday home in Spain. It was a nice change of scenery and I managed to escape the British downpour and enjoy the sunshine while I worked.

“Earlier in the year I also Worked From Anywhere in South Africa.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my son and his family in Johannesburg. This was extra special to me as my son got married whilst I was there, so it was fantastic to be able to be part of my son’s wedding celebrations and still fit work around it.”

At GB Bank, acting with kindness and succeeding together are two of our core values. We believe that by encouraging people to learn where and when they work best we will help support a happy and productive team which  ultimately enables us to achieve our business goals and deliver on our purpose.. You can read more about our values here: 

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