17 Jun 2020
Our response to COVID-19 /the Coronavirus
Since the initial emergence of COVID-19, we have worked hard to ensure we are resilient in the face of the pandemic, and that our service to customers will be affected as little as possible.
We’re now cautiously starting to bring a small number of our staff back into our offices so that we can better serve more customers, who are relying on us to help them access important financial services at a time when such access is especially critical.
We are a long-term organisation with over 180 years of history. While coronavirus undoubtedly presents significant uncertainty for everyone, we are confident we will keep delivering for our customers.
Protecting our customers, employees and society
As a business we are taking decisions based on the welfare of our people, and the needs of our customers and clients combined, alongside supporting the needs of broader society through inclusive capitalism.
We continue to service our customers, whether it’s helping them to keep their family financially secure after the death of a loved one, paying annuities or assisting someone with a long-term illness to meet their mortgage repayments, our commitment to supporting our customers in some of the most difficult times in their lives will not waver. We paid 96% of life insurance and critical illness claims in Q1 2020, the same rate as we paid in Q1 2019. With more than three million people in the UK relying on L&G for financial security in retirement, we have managed to maintain our most important business services uninterrupted. That includes making annuity payments to over 700,000 customers every month.
We’ve extended our Employee Assistance Programme to around two million customers and extended our Care Concierge service to our employees and many customers. We’re also backing the NHS’ call for people experiencing symptoms of a critical illness such as cancer to visit their GP and seek medical advice in line with government safety guidelines, after figures showed a fall of just over 40% in the number of people coming forward and claiming on our critical illness policies in April, under lockdown. We are continuing to pay out on Critical Illness Cover claims and are here, ready and able to support our protection customers at this time.
We’re doing all we can to meet our customer service targets and have quickly introduced some new ways of working and made significant improvements to our online accessibility and tools. We’ve also ensured that our post room and scanning teams have maintained a good service level throughout the coronavirus crisis, meaning that we have not excluded customers who may not be able to take advantage of our digital channels.
The welfare of our thousands of employees will continue to remain a prime concern, as they in turn provide support to the millions of people relying on L&G. Supported by our robust, well-embedded remote working solutions, the majority of our people will continue to work from home.
We’ve done a great job of keeping our business running from home, with only a very small number of staff heading into our workplaces since lockdown began at the end of March, but working at home just isn’t possible for everyone. So, to help those who can’t work at home get back to the workplace, we’ve been looking at how we can safely increase the number of people working in our larger offices.
As we cautiously increase the number of people working in some of our UK offices, we've taken steps to make sure our buildings are safe for those returning to work. We have put temperature checks in place at entrances, implemented comprehensive social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning regimes, will provide face masks for employees who have to travel to or from work and have implemented staggered start and finish times.
For staff returning to the office, this will be an uncertain time. Likewise, those who are not being asked to return are likely to be feeling a range of emotions. We will continue to put our people’s health and wellbeing at the centre of our plans, as we have throughout the coronavirus crisis. We have many resources available to support our people, including our Employee Assistance Programme, trained Mental Health First Aiders and a dedicated intranet hub and will continue to refine and develop the support we offer as the situation develops.
We’ve launched a range of initiatives to help meet the growing social needs arising from the coronavirus disruption. With the virus disproportionately impacting the health and wellbeing of older populations, we believe our £20 million partnership with Edinburgh University’s research into elderly care is more important than ever. As such, we are accelerating components of this arrangement.
Another of our partnerships has helped create a UK network of Bruntwood SciTech innovation districts, dedicated to driving the growth of the science and technology sector. One of these, Alderley Park, in Cheshire, has recently become the home of one of the government’s three national ‘Mega Labs’ to facilitate mass testing for coronavirus.
Recognising the stress on the NHS and its workers, we are supporting the NHS in a variety of ways, including by offering free accommodation for NHS key workers at our Build to Rent sites. 25 of our sites have been offered to the NHS to use for testing, as well as our Bracknell site being offered up for training and storage. Our Modular Homes factory in Leeds has been donating its PPE equipment.
We also established a £500K Community Fund to rapidly support employee-led requests for help to local and smaller charities engaged in elderly care and mental health. So far we have funded over 100 small charities through this fund with grants from £100 up to £5,000. We have supported educational initiatives; over 200 teachers signed up to the Maths Club developed through Keele University to help teachers develop resources and Every Day Money materials were uploaded to various online platforms for teachers to use.
We have also supported the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Trussell Trust foodbank, the Royal Voluntary Service and the Sun NHS emergency appeal and will continue to look for opportunities to support those who will still need our help as we start to gradually emerge from lockdown.