What does the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing mean for Engagement?

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

As the Good Economy launch the ESG Social Housing Working Group final report, Michael Hill, Business Development Manager for Tpas writes about why Tpas are an endorser for the project and what it means for engagement. 


When Tpas was approached to be part of consulting on this new standard, we jumped at the chance to bring this hugely important topic into the consciousness of our members, and give them a chance to influence the final document.

In social housing resident engagement, building a clear business case for effective engagement has always been easier at an operational level and there are many good examples. Despite their being very clear and evidenced benefits to good engagement, gaining buy in from those with financial responsibility however, has always been more challenging.

Now despite 2020 bringing a lot of pain to many with the covid-19 pandemic, there was a shaft of light shining through the dark clouds of May & June.

ESG - Environmental, Social & Governance

A rapidly growing focus within the financial and investment institutions that fund a large proportion of social housing sector is on landlords’ ESG performance. These three measures have been used to assess the wider impacts of landlords to determine if investment will be socially responsible as well as provide some return.

In short – lenders want to lend to landlords that do good things, are well managed and can demonstrate it.

Measuring ESG had previously been inconsistent and difficult to evaluate effectively, so a more streamlined approach was sought. Initiated by Peabody, a research project was carried out by The Good Economy with a group of landlords and financial organisations to create a standard that helped lenders evaluate landlords more consistently, but also enabled landlords to report on it.

Why is it important now?

We all know there is a shortage of social housing and s a sector, we have a challenge to meet the demand. Without the private finance it will be almost impossible to meet the need unless something radically changes through Government grant. These financial institutions therefore are vital in securing investment to help the sector build the new homes that we need to deal with the housing shortage.

What did we do?

We held two focus groups and invited our members to give their feedback as well as produced a blog to raise the topic with many who had not been exposed to it. As an organisation we also became endorsers of the project and made a pledge to continue the discussion and encourage others to get engaged in this growing area of social housing finance.

What does this mean for engagement?

This means we can draw clear and direct lines between a landlord that delivers good engagement, particularly in relation to scrutiny and community investment, and their ability to draw down funding. In a nutshell – demonstrating you have good resident engagement behaviours with a clear focus on improving the lives of your residents, can make you more investible and help secure future finance.

Here is one of the elements which is part of the Resident Voice section.

We have to say here that this standard is voluntary and some elements are aspirational but the intention is clear, to gain funding, landlords have to be doing good things and that includes involving residents

There is a whole raft of other things such as fire safety and carbon-reduction so if you want to look more you can find the final report, detailing the Standard and the criteria at www.esgsocialhousing.co.uk