In the spring of last year Stephen White, chief executive of the Yorkshire Building Society, and his colleagues were deeply worried by what they were seeing and hearing on the ground across their branch network. They were picking up more and more stories from customers, and others in their communities, about the huge leap in the number of people who were struggling to make ends meet.

This was still mid-pandemic. The mood was gloomy. People were losing their jobs. Many others – particularly in the hospitality and retail businesses – were either being laid off or not getting money from furlough or other welfare benefits. Others simply needed help with sorting out their finances.