A BUILDING society has increased the value of its assets but has seen a reduced profit this year.

Darlington Building Society held its annual general meeting on Monday, April 27 at its head office in Darlington.

Members were asked to remain at home for the meeting, held in what chief executive Andrew Craddock described as the "strangest of circumstances".

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “Darlington, like all UK banks and building societies, has been defined as an essential service provider by the Government, meaning we have a duty to ensure our services continue.

“In the space of just a few weeks we have met the government’s expectations for social distancing, re-priced our savings and mortgages in reaction to two Bank of England base rate reductions – now at the lowest in the Bank of England’s 325-year history, introduced mortgage payment holidays for mortgages borrowers, whilst protecting our employees and enabling them in turn to look after their families and loved ones.

"I have great admiration for everyone who works for Darlington Building Society, in not only delivering but adapting our whole business to the ever-changing world around us.

"We’ve managed to get 90 per cent of our head office colleagues set up and working from home together with keeping our whole branch network open – albeit under changed hours.

"And we’ve done so while keeping all of our colleagues on full pay – irrespective of their family responsibilities outside of work – we even managed to on-board two new recruits who joined the society.”

A quorum of members from the society’s staff were present at head office, socially distancing themselves from one another, and joined on-line by the chairman, directors, a representative from external auditors Deloitte and Civica Election Services, independent voting scrutineers.

Members were able to submit questions to the board and vote by post and online for all the resolutions.

This year the society has invested in refurbishing branches, providing new IT platforms to enable members and brokers to interact digitally and have recruited more staff to service increased business volumes.

However, with costs increasing at a faster rate than revenue, profit fell slightly to £1.7m pre tax, and £1.4m after tax.

At the end of 2019, reserves had increased by £1.7m to £45.7m.

Total assets are now just under £666m, an increase of 9 per cent from the previous year.

New mortgage lending in 2019 was £138m, slightly higher than the £127m achieved in 2018.

And in 2019, the number of borrowing members increased to just over 9,000.