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Reflections from the Social Housing Finance Conference

On 8th May individuals from around the social housing sector gathered in London for this year’s Social Housing Finance Conference. The conference offered a chance for housing associations, funders and other stakeholders to meet and discuss the latest in social housing finance.

Brendan Sarsfield, Chair of SfH and Sarah Forster, CEO of The Good Economy, attended the event. Below are their top takeaways from the day below:

  • Data remains a significant challenge when it comes to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and sustainability reporting – but the payoff includes a better understanding of the business and ways to drive improved performance.
  • Telling the ‘social’ story needs to have a strong focus on people and purpose, and individual outcomes – data and KPIs are only part of the story.
  • Effective stakeholder engagement – and resident engagement – is critical to bringing finance and purpose closer together.
  • Residents are interested in housing association finances and the behaviours and sustainability commitments of their funders.
  • Housing associations remain under significant financial pressure, but there is optimism around the commitment of the next government to invest in more social housing.
  • Institutional capital driven by ESG and sustainable outcomes offers potential partnerships, but social housing will always need a form of subsidy.
  • ESG got a lot of support, with many talking about the benefits beyond finance, with the criteria helping HAs improve their strategies and performance.  
  • The sector needs certainty from government in relation to both capital investment and rent policy so that it can deliver more for existing residents and help address the housing crisis.