They will be the first of their kind to be developed in the UK and are being supported by DEFRA (Ã??30,000), the Department of Trade and Industry (Ã??10,000) and the Department For International Development (Ã??10,000).

The guidelines are being prepared by the FORGE Group, which is led by CGNU and consists of major players in the banking and insurance industries.

Mrs Beckett said: “Sustainable development is a priority for this Government. I am very pleased that DEFRA is able to support the work of the FORGE Group in developing guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility management and reporting for the financial services sector, and look forward to seeing the results.”

The guidance will provide practical help to financial services in managing and reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility. External stakeholders, including financial service organisations, regulators, trade associations and non- governmental organisations will be consulted.

It will build on ‘Guidelines on Environmental Management and Reporting for the Financial Services Sector,’ launched by the FORGE Group in November 2000.

The guidance will provide a practical ’tool-kit’ for addressing CSR issues and advice on identifying priorities. Organisations will be able to use all or part, according to their individual needs.

The FORGE group includes Abbey National, Barclays, Legal & General, Lloyds TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal & SunAlliance and Zurich Financial Services. The British Bankers’ Association and Association of British Insurers are also key partners. PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Sustainability Services is advising the group.