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Change Maker: Jonathan Evans, Skipton Building Society

  • 07/08/2023
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Change Maker: Jonathan Evans, Skipton Building Society
As part of the Change Makers initiative, Mortgage Solutions spoke to Skipton Building Society's national account lead Jonathan Evans (pictured) about his work on sustainability and environmental awareness, the role of the industry in combatting climate change and how he feels to have been nominated as a Change Maker.

Evans has been with Skipton for almost a decade for over a decade, and is currently national account lead. He began his career with the mutual as a business development manager in 2015. Prior to that, he had stints at both Santander and Lloyds Banking Group.

Several years ago, he became an advocate for greater environmental awareness within the mortgage industry leading to his nomination as a Mortgage Solutions Change Maker.


What initiative or project saw you nominated as a Change Maker?

In 2021, I became interested in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness after the government’s Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill underwent it’s second reading in parliament. Recognising it as a significant milestone and turning point for the industry, I realised that few intermediaries were aware of the proposed changes or their implementation timeline.

Therefore, I made a conscious decision to educate myself on the subject and proactively reach out to industry professionals and mortgage brokers to disseminate the information.


Why did this project mean so much to you?

As a mortgage professional, I’m deeply committed to sustainability in the UK housing market. This is because the housing market is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, and retrofitting homes is one of the most effective ways to reduce these emissions. In addition to this, on a personal level as a parent, I recognise the importance of ensuring homes are as sustainable as possible for future generations.


Why did you feel the industry needed such an initiative?

I felt there was a lack of awareness within the intermediary community and that it wasn’t getting the level of attention it deserved. The government’s proposed changes could have a significant impact on landlords and homeowners alike and the feedback from the front line when speaking to brokers was that they weren’t fully aware of the bill going through parliament or the implications it could have on some of their customers.

How did you go about bringing the initiative to life?

I got the message out to the intermediary market by organising and hosting 30 plus webinars covering most regions throughout the UK and got involved with helping industry mortgage clubs and networks design meaningful content for their member events and roadshows.

Internally, I worked closely with colleagues in head office as part of our Green Mortgage Strategy Group to shape the discussion around what products, proposition, education, and members benefits could look like to help achieve our vision to help more people live in greener, more energy efficient homes.


What were the challenges you faced?

Dealing with the polarity of views. The reaction and feedback were mixed. In one camp, you had brokers that felt it wasn’t a priority or a pressing issue, as the government plans were only in the consultation phase. In the other camp, you had brokers that wanted access to more technical knowledge to help them speak to their customers on the best way to go about making the changes required.


Do you feel the initiative has made a difference? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes, I believe it helped get the message out to the industry at a time when there wasn’t much content or discussion on the topic. I like to tell myself I was campaigning it before it became popular…only joking.


What are the next steps?

The next natural step is to start addressing the challenges that homeowners and landlords may face in implementing sustainable practices, such as the costs involved and what changes could be made.

As a way of helping our mortgage customers, Skipton teamed up with Vibrant, an experienced provider of EPCs to the residential sector in the UK, who have hundreds of assessors located nationwide and help tens of thousands of people each year.

We are giving our customers the option to book a free EPC Plus. The EPC Plus provides the standard EPC rating of their home, with recommendations on how to bring homes up to their “potential” EPC rating, plus help identifying if they’re eligible for any government-funded schemes available through local authorities and installers.

Vibrant can also obtain price estimates from their panel of carefully selected suppliers on request and, for a fee, they can even project-manage any works on the customer’s behalf.


How much further do you think the industry needs to go to make changes and what should happen?

As an industry, we all have a part to play, and we can make changes now. It’s refreshing to see the collaboration between mortgage clubs and networks to form the Mortgage Climate Action Group to further educate the intermediary market. Then you have IMLA, AMI, the BSA and UK Finance all well engaged too. Could this lead to further lobbying of the government? Are there opportunities for lenders to gain access to cheaper funding? Or could it potentially lead to stamp duty reform?

We still have a long way to go on the road to net zero, however I’m optimistic that we can achieve this.  I personally feel Skipton Building Society and our wider group brands is well placed to play a leading role in greening the UK housing market.


What does it mean to you to be nominated as a Change Maker?

It means a great deal to me. The concept is great as it not only acknowledges the efforts of individuals who are leading industry transformation but also sheds light on the process involved, potentially motivating others to follow suit.

My nomination made all the effort I put in worth it. I’d also like to congratulate everyone else who has been recognised as a Mortgage Solutions Change Maker.

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