Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds among worst banks for investing in animal cruelty
Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro Bank, and Santander appear to be linked to investments in animal cruelty according to a new report by World Animal Protection UK.
The "Banking on Welfare" report examined ten of the largest banks in the UK, revealing that these financial institutions are potentially channelling customers' funds into activities associated with animal cruelty. These activities encompass areas such as factory farming, captive animal entertainment, which includes practices like elephant riding, and involvement in animal testing.
World Animal Protection commissioned research specialists Profundo who assessed the banks using the 2023 Fair Finance Guide Methodology (FFG). Animal welfare is one of 21 sustainability themes on which the FFG assesses the policies of financial institutions. The findings of the report indicate that Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro Bank, and Santander do not incorporate any mention of animal welfare in their respective policies.
Banks that demonstrated a stronger commitment to animal welfare included Triodos, securing the top position, followed by Standard Chartered, The Co-operative Bank, NatWest, and Virgin Money. While none of these banks have a dedicated animal welfare policy, they do emphasise animal welfare in various other policy documents. Notably, Triodos stood out by highlighting animal welfare in a greater number of policy documents compared to all other banks.
The absence of a dedicated animal welfare policy in a bank raises concerns, as it suggests that our funds, including pension investments, insurance premiums, and bank deposits, may inadvertently support animal cruelty through the companies these banks finance.
Supporting animal welfare is important for UK consumers. According to a survey conducted by World Animal Protection with 2000 UK participants, three out of five individuals express a desire for all banks to adopt an animal welfare policy. An equal number feel misled, suspecting that their bank might be directing their funds towards detrimental activities such as factory farming and deforestation.
Nearly half of people polled would move where they bank to ensure their money is not used in investments that may be cruel to animals. Over half of people would rather have a lower rate of interest than a bank that invested in animal cruelty.
Lindsay Duncan, World Animal Protection Farming Campaigns Manager, said:
"By not having a dedicated animal welfare policy, these banks are likely to be investing their customers’ money into cruel practices such as industrial scale factory farming. We are calling on customers to write to their bank urging them to put in place a dedicated animal welfare policy to stop them investing in animal cruelty.”
Factory farms subject billions of animals worldwide to a lifetime of misery in confined and unsanitary environments, preventing them from expressing their natural behaviours. Chickens, for example, are raised in windowless barns, packed into spaces smaller than an A4 piece of paper from birth. Pigs endure days in cramped and barren conditions, resulting in painful sores. Mother pigs face extreme confinement, unable to turn around to witness their piglets.
By not having a dedicated animal welfare policy, banks could well be investing their customers’ money into unspeakably cruel, industrial scale factory farming. Together, we can turn finance into a force for good and make sure there is no future for factory farming.
Send an email to your bank today and tell them that they need to put a public animal welfare policy in place.
Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro Bank, and Santander do not incorporate any mention of animal welfare in their respective policies.