This year for the first time we’ve published a combined strategic report which brings together our previously separate financial and non-financial information. The report describes how we create value and the key influences in our operating environment. We’ve been reporting annually on our sustainability performance since 2003, but this is the first time our performance has been combined with our financials. This change means we’re not publishing a separate Sustainability Report but it’s the first step towards fully integrated reporting over the next few years. As part of this process we have added more detailed information and features to the sustainability section of rbs.com.
For many years we’ve prioritised transparency and openness in our reporting. We were the first large UK bank to disclose details of our energy sector lending and in 2016 we received our highest ever scores in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (84) and Carbon Disclosure Project (A-). We plan to go further in the coming years by reporting more information that helps us and our stakeholders understand our performance on the issues that matter to us all.
We will also deepen our commitment to supporting financial capability and enterprise in the UK and Ireland, through a range of partnerships and initiatives. These include MoneySense - our 22 year financial education programme for 5 to 18 year olds - and Entrepreneurial Spark, which opened 6 new free business accelerators for start-ups in 2016 bringing our total to 12 in the UK.
As technological, social and environmental changes shape the world we live in, it’s even more important to stay connected with our customers’ needs and the wider expectations of our stakeholders. Our external stakeholder engagement programme helps us to shape our future strategy and our approach to designing products and services that deliver value for customers and for society more broadly.
We are building a more sustainable bank; a more responsible company, doing business in a more sustainable way. We consider the long-term impacts of our actions in our decision making, and we will continue work on our enterprise and financial education programmes to make a difference for our customers and communities. Continuing to live by our values and providing, simple and fair banking will help us to build trust for the long term.
We are making progress towards embedding sustainability across our organisation and this will continue to be a strategic focus in 2017. We know there is more to do, but we are listening and we are changing for the better.
Last year RBS gave away £2.5m in grants to community projects across the UK and Ireland through their newly launched Skills & Opportunities Fund. This year support for grassroots organisations continues with a further £2.5m and as the second round of 2016 funding concludes, 52 more projects will receive a share of £1.25m.
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At 13-years-old, Henry Patterson is one of the UK’s youngest entrepreneurs. He has already published a children’s book and co-founded a business, and will soon see his characters come to life in animation. Hear from Henry about how it all began and how Entrepreneurial Spark, powered by NatWest, helped him.