Sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion

Our ambition
Our ambition

Our ambition

We want to deliver long-lasting sustainable growth and positive social and environmental impact not only through our community programmes, but also through our business operations.

“With advances in technology and evolving customer behaviour, we are seeing changes to the way many customers access and use financial services. This means it’s more important than ever to keep customers at the heart of our business, especially those most vulnerable. That’s why I’m so excited for our new partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, aiming to make us the UK’s best digital dementia-friendly bank.”

Susan Allen Head of Retail and Business Banking, Santander UK

What this means for us

As a bank, our main activities need to deliver returns not just for our shareholders but also to benefit our society more broadly. To us, sustainable economic growth means taking everyone with us on this journey, ensuring non-traditional businesses and those financially excluded have access to the right services and tools.

We’ll do this by promoting financial inclusion for people and businesses, supporting the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises and considering the risks and opportunities of climate change in the way we do business.

Our support of our vulnerable customers, helping small businesses grow and prosper through our ‘Breakthrough’ programme and advancing education through our universities scheme are just a few examples of our commitment to drive sustainable economic growth.

Financial inclusion
Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion

We are proud to champion British businesses, from start-up to scale-up and beyond.

Santander Breakthrough helps ambitious SMEs grow and prosper through a range of activities focused on building connections, gaining knowledge, finding and retaining talent, and accessing opportunities for international growth and finance.



4,200 businesses attended Breakthrough in Branch events


478 companies benefiting from 67 activities aimed at supporting international growth


5 stars The 1I2I3 Business Current account was rated as 5 Stars by Moneyfacts



Our community investment strategy aims to deliver long-term, meaningful value to society through a focus on topics where we can make a real difference such as financial inclusion, job creation, and education, digital inclusion and fighting financial crime.

Our teams regularly volunteer for local community organisations and support our in-school mentoring programme ‘Wise workshops’. In these sessions, Santander volunteers teach students about topics such as responsible money management, career planning, and staying safe online.

Our ambition is to become the best digital dementia-friendly bank in the UK.

In 2019 we launched our new charity partnership with Alzheimer’s Society. The focus of the partnership is on improving financial inclusion and helping those within our communities that are affected by dementia as well as fundraising activities and volunteering.

Together with Alzheimer’s Society, we’re exploring ways in which we, as a bank, can make a difference. We’re working closely with the charity to better understand and respond to the needs and challenges of both our customers who may be affected by dementia, and their carers.


people reached in 2018


awarded in grants and matched donations by the Santander Foundation in 2018


Workshop students rose by 87% in 2018



Internal management

We have a robust environmental sustainability practice involving stakeholders across the business and dedicated Sustainability Working Group (made up of senior managers across the business). 

We rank second among the top five retail banks in the UK for environmental performance related to the UK CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Energy Efficiency Scheme. Our electricity is sourced entirely from green supplies including biomass, wind and water.

Over 99.8% of the waste generated through our operations (primarily paper, plastic, aluminium, glass and food), is either recycled or diverted from landfill. 

Climate change

We recognise that climate change is a significant global issue and support the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement on limiting emissions. We understand that the banking sector has an important role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy, which presents both risks and opportunities for our business.

In response to recent developments from the PRA, the FCA and the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force (TCFD), we welcome an industry-wide approach to enhancing our climate risk management practices, governance and disclosure statements.

In 2018, we formed a cross-functional working group on climate change to shape our response in this rapidly developing area. We’re working alongside other industry participants, as well as engaging with our investors and other stakeholders.

Our impact
Our impact

Our impact

Case Study: Tackling financial and social exclusion
From 2015 to 2018, we partnered with Age UK and Barnardo’s. One of the aims of our partnership was to tackle the root causes of financial and social exclusion affecting older and younger people.

Ambitions for Later Life

The over-60s is the fastest-growing group in society, with many at risk of financial and social exclusion, and 1.9 million older people already living in poverty. Fewer than three in ten people at retirement age have any plan for funding long term care.

With Santander funding, Age UK launched ‘Ambitions for Later Life’. This initiative has supported over 5,800 older people to plan for the times ahead and be more financially resilient.

The primary benefit has been to support financial security, with Age UK helping people to remain in their homes, afford to leave the house and use transport such as taxis. This has been transformative for many older people. As of December 2018, Age UK have helped people access over £8.7 million in unclaimed benefits through the programme.

On Track Programme

We established the On-Track project with Barnardo’s to transform the lives of the most vulnerable young people in society, including care leavers, young people with learning difficulties, or those with mental health issues.

Since 2016 the service has helped 382 young people overcome major challenges in their lives, enabling them to fully participate in society and have access to financial services which meet their needs.

Barnardo’s worked with local Santander branches to provide employability support such as mentoring. This programme provided a strong social return on investment of £3.20 for every £1, based on a robust cost-benefit methodology developed and internally validated by Barnardo’s; demonstrating the project’s wider benefit to society.


hours of time to directly support people for both charities

Over £3.2m

raised to support Age UK and Barnardo’s during the partnership


of participants said events made them feel proud to work for Santander UK