Bank Accounts – Co-operative Party

Every accounting unit of the Co-operative Party (i.e. Party Councils and Regional Parties registered with the Electoral Commission) must have a bank account independent from a co-operative society or other organisation. Accounts should be in the name of the party unit, not individuals.

Depending on local arrangements, branches may have a separate bank account or have their finances managed by the Party Council.

Current account details and any changes should be notified to Head Office as soon as possible to ensure money is paid to the correct bank account.

The treasurer should always control all of the party unit’s bank accounts, receive regular statements and report to each meeting on receipts and payments.

Account signatories

Banks usually require there to be at least two signatories for each account, one of whom must be the treasurer. It is recommended that you have three signatories, for example the Party Council or branch chair and secretary as well as the treasurer.

It is good practice to bring a copy of your bank’s change of signatories’ form to your AGM – if new officers are elected, get them to sign the form at the end of the meeting and ensure that the treasurer sends it to the bank as soon as possible. The minutes should also record the names of the signatories who are elected by the meeting.

Occasionally Party Councils or branches may lose contact with one or more of the signatories. Banks may refuse to change the names on the account unless all signatories have signed the relevant form.  If this happens or if previous officers are un-cooperative in transferring the account, please contact Head Office as we may be able to assist you in unlocking the account.

Types of accounts

Party units should use a current account for normal banking needs, where possible ensuring that the account has low charges and pays interest on your balance.

If historic balances have also been built up, party units may also have accounts and investments such as deposit accounts, bonds, co-operative society shares, memorial or election funds, or credit union accounts.

Who to bank with

Party units may choose any licensed bank, building society or credit union to have their account with. Historically, the Co-operative Bank and Unity Trust have been the most popular options, however you may choose the best account for you.

Some things to consider when choosing your account:

  • Does the bank reflect our values and principles?
  • What types of fees will the bank charge you to manage your account?
  • Does it offer things like a cheque book, debit card, online banking or local branches?

When opening an account, the bank may ask for a copy of the minutes confirming the signatories for the account; a letter from Head Office confirming that you are entitled to open or change an account; and a copy of your Party Council or branch constitution. If you need help with this, please contact Head Office.

The bank will also carry out checks to ensure that you comply with all relevant regulations. To do this they may ask for additional information about the signatories nominated by the party unit.

Managing your account

Cheques should always be signed by at least two people, who should always see the relevant invoice before signing the cheque. The practice of one signatory signing blank cheques, with only the second signatory being required when the cheque is made out is not permitted.

Debit cards can be a convenient way to make payments in cash, online or by phone. However, it is important to remember that debit cards prove a heightened fraud risk as they only require one signatory to be used.  If debits cards are necessary, it is essential that that statements are monitored to identify any unexpected payments. Cards should only be used by the person named on the card.

There are similar risks and advantages with using online banking.  It is essential that to protect officers and the Party that you make use of all security measures offered by your bank, which may include two signatories being required to make online payments.

Monthly statements are recommended, but more frequent statements may be appropriate for accounts with a high volume of transactions. All bank statements and other banking documents should be retained as part of the unit’s financial records and reported in your annual statement to Head Office.

Accounting units of the Co-operative Party (i.e. party councils and regional parties registered with the Electoral Commission) must submit annual accounts to Head Office no later than 31 March each year.

Account providers

The Co-operative Bank

Offers free banking through their Community Directplus current account to co-operatives, including units of the Co-operative Party. If you are currently paying for your account with the Co-operative Bank or need need help confirming your co-operative status please contact Head Office.

Click here for more information about Co-operative Bank Community Accounts.

Unity Trust

Founded by the trade union and co-operative movements and offers a special rate for units of the Co-operative Party of £25 per year, compared to £6 per month for other organisations.

Click here for more information about Unity Trust Accounts.

Credit unions

Now often allow organisations to become members. Accounts, services and charges vary between credit unions, but setting up an account is a great way to support your local co-op movement.

Click here to find your local credit union.

Building societies

May offer an account for not-for-profits which you may be eligible for. Contact your local building society for further information.


Offers free banking for party units with a turnover of less than £50,000. Click here for more information.


Offers free banking for party units with a turnover of less than £250,000. Click here for more information.

Lloyds Bank

Offers free banking for party units with a turnover of less than £50,000. Click here for more information.


Offers free banking for party units with a turnover of less than £100,000. Click here for more information.


  • Please check that your account has all the recommended security provisions in place.
  • Check that all cheque signatories are current elected officers of the Party or branch and that their contact details are up-to-date.
  • If you no longer have access any of your local Party’s accounts or those of your branches, let us know.

Further Information