IPSWICH Building Society has reported another record year for mortgage lending and savings balances.

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The society says its strong financial performance reflects its investment in local communities and staff, such as its programmes to promote health and to improve financial awareness

Mortgage balances at the society grew by 16.4% during 2012 to £465million, an increase of £65m compared with a year earlier. This contrasts with overall growth in the UK mortgage market last year of just 3%.

More than an eighth of the society’s mortgage lending (13.6%) went to helping first-time buyers take their first step on to the property ladder.

Savings balances reached a record £532m, representing growth of 46% since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. As a result, the society remains 98% funded by retail savings.

The society’s profit, after tax and its payment to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, grew to £2m. This is to be retained in the business in order to fund a new IT system to be installed later this year.

During 2012, the society opened a new agency in Mildenhall and invested in its staff by recruiting five apprentices and supporting a number of existing employees in studying for professional qualifications.

The society’s focus on improving health and wellbeing, in the workplace as well as the wider community, contributed to record lows in sickness absence and staff turnover.

It also expanded its financial education activities, running Money Days in more than 200 schools and training nine staff to deliver financial awareness to 14/15 year-olds for a scheme run by the High Sheriff of Suffolk which will be launched this spring.

Paul Winter, chief executive, said: “The good health of Ipswich Building Society has come through delivering the best service to our members, by reaching out to new members and by supporting our staff and our local community.”

He added: “Investing in local communities and staff is good for business. It’s become integral to who we are and who we want to be and has wide ranging benefits for the people, charities and groups with whom we are involved .”

Further details of the society’s annual results will be announced at its annual general meeting which is due to take place at Wherstead Park, Ipswich, Wednesday, March 20.

Members of the society should receive their voting packs in the post ahead of the meeting.

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