The British Business Bank constitution consists of its Articles of Association and a Shareholder Relationship Framework Document between the British Business Bank and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The British Business Bank plc operates, so far as is practicable, a best practice corporate governance framework, and complies with the UK Corporate Governance Code other than certain provisions connected to relations with Shareholders which are covered by the Shareholder Framework Document, or specifies and explains any non-compliance in its Annual Report.
The UK Corporate Governance Code is freely available from the Financial Reporting Council. The UK Corporate Governance Code acts as a guide to a range of key issues to ensure effective Board practice.
Apart from those set out in this Annual Report, the Board is not aware of any deviations from the relevant aspects of the Code in the period since 1 April 2019 insofar as it applies to the British Business Bank.
Our principal decisions
We describe here how the directors had regard to key stakeholders when making principal decisions during the year which were material in the financial context of the Group.
The Board also made important decisions about its composition, reporting Keith Morgan’s announcement that he would be standing down from his role as Chief Executive and appointing new Non-executive Directors, and relating to the Group’s engagement with its key stakeholders.
Our Board remained focused on our governance, objectives and risks to the Group’s business throughout the year. Various key frameworks, control documents and core processes were reviewed and approved, including the schedule of matters reserved for the Board as described here. These included the Group’s risk appetite framework and risk appetite statement, business plans for British Business Investments and British Patient Capital, and the Group’s Policy Governance Framework.
In April 2019, our Board approved our participation in the launch of ENABLE Build to make available up to £1bn in guarantees provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support finance for smaller housebuilders. We are working alongside Homes England to deliver this programme.
The Board considered how to expand its support to SMEs and the wider community by working alongside BEIS to tackle access to finance and the UK housing shortage.
Details of our Risk Management Framework for these types of decisions are included on p81. This decision was taken in the context of the Bank’s credit and investment risk appetite being medium to high; with robust due diligence being undertaken on Homes England as our Delivery Partner.
In May 2019, our Board approved a £450m ENABLE Guarantee to Barclays to launch a new cash back scheme for term loans to eligible SME borrowers, the largest of its kind launched in the UK.
The Board considered that the guarantee would improve an existing finance solution available to SMEs.
We explain the impact of our ENABLE Guarantees and other such programmes on p20 of the report
In March 2020, our Board approved the arrangements for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) delivered by the Bank through (initially) more than 40 accredited lenders and partners to support the continued provision of finance to UK SMEs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This decision was essential in aligning our objectives with the government’s policy and to help eligible SMEs experiencing cashflow issues due to the pandemic, for the benefit of them, the economy and wider community.
More information on the CBILS can be found on p16.
Our key stakeholders
Our Section 172(1) statement highlights our seven key stakeholders, and why and how we engage with them.
The following outlines who our stakeholders are, why they are important to our long-term success, how we engage and understand their issues and where you can find further information about them.
To deliver products that customers value, we must engage with SMEs in building new solutions and improving existing ones.
- Face-to-face interactions
- Use of digital channels such as the Finance Hub, social media, email campaigns and newsletters
- Attendance at and hosting events
- Intelligence gathering and research on relevant topics on both a regular and ad-hoc basis, via (for example) surveys and focus panels, often resulting in publications
- Gaining feedback on programmes via evaluations
See here for detail of SME engagement measures including our Demand Development Unit interventions and use of our Finance Hub and Business Finance Guide.
For the latest Bank research and programme evaluations, please see: british-business-bank.co.uk/research
Our overall success largely depends on their performance and conduct, which encourages private sector investment whilst helping address regional imbalances in the UK.
- Origination and market engagement (events, meetings)
- Onboarding, including iterative programme application support with potential Delivery Partners (DPs)
- Marketing and brand alignment, building working relationships with new and existing DP marketing and branding counterparts
- Ongoing relationship management:
- Dedicated contact managers for accredited DPs, to resolve issues and manage change/performance
- Performance and risk monitoring, for example via quarterly reviews, through fora such as Limited Partner Advisory Committees, as well as independent audits of DPs
- Networking and community-building events for accredited DPs, to build best practice and share experiences, such as the quarterly DP fora for SUL and annual British Patient Capital GP/LP forum
British Business Bank website: british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners
and SUL’s website: startuploans.co.uk/delivery-partners
P48 includes details of risk management related to our delivery partners.
We rely on suppliers to deliver our goods and services on time and to good quality. This helps maintain value for money, and can bring innovative solutions that create shared value.
- Operating an enhancing supplier relationship management framework
See p49 for information on the Bank’s engagement with suppliers.
Government and Parliament
Maintaining the government’s support and trust in our ability to deliver is key to our success and future and to ensure our objectives continue to align to with the government’s policy.
- Regular events, roundtables and meetings
- Monitoring key issues across government departments, including through the Dod’s Parliamentary monitoring service
- Programme of meetings with the BEIS and other ministers and other government officials
- National Audit Office Value for Money Study
Further information on the Bank’s engagement with government is included at p49 in ‘Stakeholder engagement and delivery on objectives’.
BEIS is vital to our operation and funding. Effective engagement with BEIS helps enable us to achieve our objectives in line with government policy priorities.
- Regular meetings with BEIS, including quarterly Shareholder and policy meetings
- BEIS representative director on the Board
Above provides some detail on decisions being made in consultation with BEIS.
Communities and environment
Our long-term success is tied inextricably to the progress of our communities and the preservation of our environment.
- Fundraising. We currently support the Trussell Trust and the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice
- Supporting local suppliers, reducing packaging, and recycling
- Cycle to work scheme, bike lockers, use of video-conferences and displays of CO2 impact of travel plans
- Zero tolerance of modern slavery in our businesses and supply chains
Further information on our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives can be found on p58.
Colleagues are our most valuable asset: without their knowledge and expertise we could not operate or achieve our aims.
- Quarterly Town Halls and Annual All Colleague conference
- Annual engagement survey leading to action plans which are followed up with colleagues
- Colleague forum on business change, updates and wellbeing
- NED with a designated workforce engagement role
A separate report on p80 details our engagement with our colleagues. Further information on engagement in response to the Covid-19 crisis and measures to enable colleagues to work flexibly, safely and support their wellbeing can be found on p59.