Co-operative launches Scots charities team

THE Scottish arm of the Co-operative Bank is launching into the charitable sector as philanthropic organisations face up to the government's spending cuts.

The bank will today confirm the formation of a charity and social enterprise team operating from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Similar units exist in London and Manchester, where the Co-operative Bank works with groups such as Christian Aid and Amnesty International.

Mike Grigor, manager of the new team, said the launch would build on the Co-operative's strong brand presence in Scotland. He added that there was a growing willingness among charitable organisations to change their bankers in search of better advice and support.

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"Right now, charities in Scotland don't have a real alternative to the traditional high street banks. In addition to the spending cuts that are coming, the grants from foundations that rely on dividend payments and donations will be down during these tough times."

The Co-operative Bank has had a charitable unit in London for about 15 years, and set up a similar service in Manchester last year to service the north of England. Since its establishment, the Manchester operation has grown to service about 100 large charities. Grigor said the feedback received so far in Scotland had been positive, as groups are increasingly looking for bankers who understand the funding issues particular to the charitable sector. He added that as a fully self-funded organisation, the Co-operative Bank was able to look at every client's needs on a case-by-case basis.

For organisations with a turnover of 1 million or more, the charity and social enterprise team will offer a full range of tailored banking services supported by a manager dedicated to that account. Smaller charities can access a more basic range of free banking services through the bank's Community Directplus account scheme.

The Co-operative Bank last year opened a corporate banking centre in Edinburgh and this year formed a team dedicated to the renewable energy sector.