Skipton Building Society is to increase the size of its telephone service centre based in the town by almost 50 per cent.

It will mean 71 new jobs in Skipton Direct – based at The Bailey – taking the number of workers at the centre to 225 and representing an additional annual investment of more than £1 million, the society revealed yesterday.

Recruitment will start straight away and will include the taking on of specialist mortgage advisers, general customer service professionals and analysts – needed to help the mutual deliver on its growth plans for the year ahead and beyond.

“We grew our mortgage book by 9.3 per cent last year and aim to increase it by a similar amount in 2014 and beyond, helping people to achieve their homeownership aspirations,” said group chief executive, David Cutter. “We also grew our membership by more than 21,000, and increased our savings balances by 8.4 per cent, a reflection of the competitive products we have on offer.”

He added: “The personal level of service we provide – both through Skipton Direct and our national network of branches – is one of the things our customers tell us they value most about their dealings with us.

“I’m delighted that we’re about to invest in these new roles in order to maintain our telephone service at a really high standard, and we plan to begin recruiting this week.”

The level of service already offered by Skipton Direct, which is based in the town, includes minimal automated options to get people through to someone who can deal specifically with their inquiry and 0345 numbers which are inclusive in most mobile phone packages.

Claire Davey, head of Skipton Direct, said: “We’ve been listening to what our customers tell us they want from Skipton Direct, and are proud of the unique aspects of our service, including our willingness to regularly go out of our way to help our customers, whatever their inquiry.

“We are now looking for a range of skilled people who can really help us drive the future development of Skipton Direct, and would urge people to come forward and join our busy and vibrant team, based in the heart of Skipton.”