NatWest won't invest in companies that make landmines or cluster munitions, but still allows investments in some of the companies that build nuclear weapons. NatWest Group, which includes subsidiary RBS, is reviewing its investment policy this year and should take the opportunity to exclude all companies involved in weapons that "cause mass, indiscriminate and long-lasting damage.”
NatWest Group’s current defence sector policy allows investment in nuclear weapons producers based in NATO countries. As of January 2021, the bank had over £2.3 billion in outstanding loans or underwriting activities to 7 companies heavily involved in the nuclear weapons industry. This however, is just a tiny fraction of NatWest's overall lending. (To put it into context, NatWest Group lent £31.5 billion for mortgages in 2020). NatWest Group has a broad enough portfolio that it doesn't need to invest in companies connected to weapons of mass destruction.
NatWest Group’s defence sector policy prevents any types of investment in any companies connected to landmines and cluster bombs because they "cause mass, indiscriminate and longlasting damage.” We urge the bank to put nuclear weapons into this same banned weapons category.
Linda Pearson of Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland said “Recent polling shows that nearly two thirds of people in the UK want the government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while 77% support a total ban on nuclear weapons globally. NatWest Group should better reflect the values of its customers, and that means ending its support for the nuclear weapon industry”.
A growing number of civil society organisations and NatWest customers support our call. In 2021, the Church of Scotland, Unison Scotland, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and 40 other organisations signed a letter asking NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose to update the group’s policy to reflect that nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law.
In April 2022, demonstrations were held at NatWest and RBS branches across the UK as part of a day of action calling on the bank to change its policy. NatWest customers handed letters into their local branch and hundreds more contacted the bank via email.
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Join the Call
There are some simple steps you can take to help us persuade NatWest to change its policy:
- Contact the bank directly using the Nuclear Weapons Finance Research Group’s handy template email.
- Print flyers and hand them out at your local branch of NatWest or RBS.
- Share the information on social media, and encourage others to act.