What does bank disclosure mean? At a basic level disclosure means providing information about a range of bank activities in defined geographical areas.

But that is where agreement ends. Opponents of disclosure say that it is a waste of time — producing a mountain of unusable and irrelevant data, wasting resources that would be better invested in corporate giving, new product development or supporting less profitable branches.

But supporters argue that disclosure is vital. They say it provides the public with information on the ways that banks invest public savings and that it can provide an opportunity to deepen understanding of market trends and so refine new products and services to serve these markets better. Supporters of disclosure also argue that comparing the performance of different banks in a transparent and verifiable way can lead to rewards for top performers and reprimands for those at the bottom.

This report is the outcome of the first programme of empirical research looking at the usefulness of disclosing local bank data to both Barclays Bank and the bank’s local partners. In a new development in the field of corporate responsibility, the programme explores how responsible corporate action can produce practical benefit.