Green savings bonds, going digital and a new business model: Ian Ackerley on NS&I's year of change

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The savings bank chief tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid as well as new challenges
NS&I launched Green Savings Bonds this year

By Civil Service World

29 Dec 2021

 

What was your highlight of 2021?

The launch in October of National Savings and Investments’ Green Savings Bonds. The bonds were first announced by the chancellor of the exchequer in the March 2021 Budget and give UK savers the opportunity to support government spending projects that will accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy, create green jobs, and participate in the collective effort to tackle climate change.

These projects will include making transport cleaner, using renewable energy over fossil fuels, preventing pollution, using energy in a more efficient way, protecting natural resources and adapting to a changing climate. 

As well as helping the environment, savers will see a fixed return on their investment and will also benefit from NS&I’s 100% security on all capital invested.

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021?

The first half of 2021 was a challenging period for NS&I as we continued to recover from the operational difficulties that were affecting our customer service performance.

We worked together with our outsource partner, Atos, to implement an operational recovery plan, which included opening new call centres and recruiting more customer service staff. This plan was completed on schedule in autumn 2021 and we are now delivering pre-Covid levels of service.

I’m also proud that while completing the operational recovery, we were successful in obtaining approval and funding to secure the long-term transformation of the business and the retender of our operational services contract. NS&I’s new Rainbow programme will transition NS&I to a multi-supplier operating model, ensuring that we have a strong, resilient infrastructure and a flexible and scalable operation that can continue to serve savers and the government for generations to come.

Finally, our Government Payment Services (part of NS&I) began delivering the administration for the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme which was also announced in the March 2021 budget.

All these required some great teamwork from across NS&I – from those working in the office and those working from home.

What is your number one priority for 2022?

2022 is a key year for the Rainbow programme, when we plan to make significant progress on procuring all the services we will need in the future. This will enable NS&I to continue to deliver our “Inspire & Invest” strategy and fulfil our vision of becoming a self-service digital business with support for vulnerable and excluded people.

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?

Hemiunu – the person responsible for the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It would be a great opportunity to find out how they built it and whether there are more secrets to be found! 

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