Building Societies in the United Kingdom

2 November 2015, updated 25 May 2018

Building societies play an important role in housing finance by providing an alternative to bank housing finance and savings products. According to The Building Societies Association, the British building societies have about 20% of these market segments (mortgage loans, savings accounts). Currently there are more than 40 building societies operating in the United Kingdom with about 25 million members and total assets exceeding 370 billion GBP. The largest building society is Nationwide Building Society having 14 million members (around 60% of total building societies members); the second- and the third-largest building societies are Yorkshire Building Society and Coventry Building Society, each having about 10% of total building societies members.

Building societies are mutual financial institutions, owned and run by their members for the benefits of their members. A customer of a building society usually becomes a member when he/she borrows money from the building society or starts saving with the society. A member can vote in the election of directors and on resolutions, attend Annual General Meetings (AGM), receive certain information from the building society, support an election candidate or a resolution.

All building societies have their headquarters outside of the city of London, and are deeply involved in the local economies where they are based. Building societies are committed to their local involvement, playing an important role in their local economies in terms of employment, investment and charity.

Products and Services

Products and services are provided by British building societies to residents of the United Kingdom only.


Mortgage lending is core business of the building societies, that is why building societies offer a wide variety of products in this area:

Interest rates on mortgages can be fixed for the whole mortgage period or variable. "Variable" means the rate can go up or down at any time. However, sometimes variable rate mortgages may be subject to a "floor" (below which the rate can never fall), or a "ceiling" (which the rate cannot go beyond). The rate is varied either at the discretion of the lender or in line with movements of an external rate (such as the Bank of England Base Rate). Most lenders have "standard" variable rates, which are varied at their discretion.


Savings products is the main way of fundings for building societies and building societies provides a variety of savings products to their members:

Savings accounts made with building societies in the United Kingdom are covered by British deposit guarantee scheme up to £85,000 per depositor.

Other Products

Several building societies can also offer current accounts and credit cards (for example, Nationwide Building Society) and a range of insurance products.

Customer Service

Building societies consistently outscore banks on various measures of customer service: the customers of building societies think more highly of their provider than the customers of banks in terms of trustworthiness, fairness and possibility of recommending their provider to new perspective customers.

Interest Rates

Building societies have been successfully operating in low interest rate environment prevailing from 2009. They have been able to attract new borrowing members by offering mortgage products with more competitive fixed and variable mortgage interest rates. Average savings rates offered by building societies on savings accounts have been comparable to the average from other providers.

List of Building Societies in the United Kingdom

The list of building societies currently operating in the United Kingdom is shown below.

RankNameNumber of MembersTotal AssetsMortgages
34Bath Investment and Building Society10264.00 298.95 231.24
40Beverley Building Society11769.00 191.65 146.98
38Buckinghamshire Building Society11033.00 224.98 178.49
14Cambridge Building Society122851.00 1109.24 992.71
3Coventry Building Society1869206.00 38295.90 32881.60
10Cumberland Building Society159792.00 2241.98 1888.68
21Darlington Building Society75464.00 546.95 434.26
29Dudley Building Society34831.00 354.73 277.30
43Earl Shilton Building Society16082.00 127.67 101.03
42Ecology Building Society9643.00 173.06 117.99
18Furness Building Society105151.00 816.01 696.29
27Hanley Economic Building Society19097.00 378.17 291.21
31Harpenden Building Society22487.00 316.88 201.03
19Hinkley and Rugby Building Society48500.00 636.70 539.85
41Holmesdale Building Society7443.00 185.33 146.16
20Ipswich Building Society70317.00 584.08 476.95
5Leeds Building Society756612.00 15930.00 13478.00
17Leek United Building Society82353.00 927.89 742.84
32Loughborough Building Society26315.00 303.06 228.71
26Manchester Building Society18204.00 382.30 288.23
23Market Harborough Building Society36867.00 417.69 367.04
24Marsden Building Society41427.00 416.00 346.23
22Melton Mowbray Building Society43262.00 419.17 339.02
15Monmouthshire Building Society69084.00 1053.83 811.27
11National Counties Building Society51069.00 1865.44 1392.22
1Nationwide Building Society15200000.00 221670.00 171119.00
16Newbury Building Society66469.00 939.34 780.79
8Newcastle Building Society355175.00 3621.50 2563.80
9Nottingham Building Society202132.00 3591.40 3032.60
44Penrith Building Society6803.00 106.06 79.27
6Principality Building Society535387.00 8281.20 7073.90
12Progressive Building Society111079.00 1794.91 1446.67
13Saffron Building Society121531.00 1114.54 862.81
25Scottish Building Society33451.00 409.23 311.31
4Skipton Building Society860403.00 19019.70 15317.00
36Swansea Building Society14316.00 268.62 184.99
37Teachers' Building Society12775.00 253.48 219.24
39The Chorley and District Building Society27340.00 220.55 160.20
30The Mansfield Building Society22429.00 328.77 258.81
35The Stafford Railway Building Society18742.00 271.49 171.97
28Tipton and Coseley Building Society34137.00 372.47 287.07
33Vernon Building Society31647.00 300.23 233.70
7West Bromwich Building Society448447.00 5830.80 4776.50
2Yorkshire Building Society2950000.00 39595.50 34103.30

All the data are for 2017. Total assets and mortgages are provided in million GBP.

During 2013-2017 8 building societies were closed down:

NameClosed On
Barnsley Building Society (closed)2013
Britannia Building Society (closed)2013
Century Building Society (closed)2013
City of Derry Building Society (closed)2014
Derbyshire Building Society (closed)2013
Dunfermline Building Society (closed)2014
Kent Reliance Building Society (closed)2013
Shepshed Building Society (closed)2014

See Also

External Links

  1. Building Societies Association