THFC publishes ESG disclosures for all bLEND customers in line with Sustainability Reporting Standard

The twenty-nine housing associations that borrow via THFC’s bLEND medium-term note vehicle have disclosed their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance for the last financial year to £8bn mutual lender The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC).

The publication of THFC’s ‘Funding Housing, Making Impact 2022’ report marks the second year that the sector’s leading aggregator to the social housing sector has asked its housing association borrowers to submit their ESG disclosures in accordance with the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS).

The responses show that bLEND borrowers delivered almost 5,500 home in the period, the vast majority of which were for social housing. Their overall average rent was 61% of private rent levels during the year, and almost two thirds of homes were at EPC C or above.

THFC was an early adopter and supporter of the SRS, and became the first sector funder to require borrowers to report against the standard. The SRS has become the go-to reporting framework for housing associations since it was launched in late 2020 to help the sector provide comparable, consistent and transparent ESG disclosures to financial and other stakeholders.

The last year has seen ESG and sustainability reporting move further into the mainstream, with investors and banks alike now required to disclose their own data against frameworks such as the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), resulting in increased requests for disclosures from sectors like housing.

Piers Williamson, chief executive of THFC and bLEND, said: “Our SRS report marks another important step on the road to greater transparency, accountability and ultimately, sustainability, for our bLEND borrowers. Hats off to all of these housing associations, who despite the very many pressures bearing down on them, recognize the value of ESG reporting.

“Underpinning sustainable investment is the need for good data and clear reporting. While the suitability of the sector for ESG and sustainability-linked funding is self-evident, it’s crucial that both tenants and funders are able to see and understand performance.”

For the 21/22 reporting period, bLEND had 27 borrowers – an increase of 11 borrowers on the same period in 2020/21. bLEND’s lending increased £450m in the year to £1.4bn, with a weighted cost of funds including deferral premia, on all issuance to 31/03/22 of 2.57%.

At the time of publication, this had increased further to 29 borrowers, owning and managing nearly 330,000 homes across the UK and responsible for delivering 5,440 in the 2021/22 financial year.

All funds are managed through a social bond framework, with £75m lent to Midlands housing provider GreenSquareAccord within a sustainable bond framework. Reporting against these frameworks has also been included in the latest publication.

The SRS disclosures provide a wealth of information that will be of relevance to a range of HA stakeholders, while also providing the opportunity to tell resident and community stories.

It enables HAs to report across 12 themes and 48 core and enhanced criteria and is linked to seven core UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The data from bLEND’s latest report shows that:

bLEND borrowers delivered 5,440 new homes in total in the financial year, of which 22% were social rent, 43% affordable rent and 25% shared ownership
Average rent compared with private rented levels was 61%
64% of homes have at least a 3-year fixed tenancy
63% of EPC ratings on existing homes were at EPC C or above
100% of homes are at the Decent Homes Standard
Average scope emissions (1, 2, 3) in KgCO2e per unit: 2,203.68
Total Scope 1 & 2 emissions of bLEND borrowers was 54,433 tonnes CO2e
Median gender pay gap of 6% across all borrowers
43% of board members are women
13% of board members are black and ethnic minority
100% have a compliant regulatory rating

Mr. Williamson added: “Given the economic and political turmoil the sector faces – along with ongoing reputational problems – these disclosures are a valuable way to demonstrate what the sector is all about, its commitment to purpose, the progress it is making and where it can focus even more.”

Note to editors:

About THFC: The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) is the UK’s leading affordable housing aggregator, with £8.3bn of lending to around 161 housing associations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. THFC was set up in 1987 in partnership with the National Housing Federation and what was the Housing Corporation. It now also operates through its subsidiary company, bLEND, which was established in 2018. As a not-for-profit, the group’s surpluses are retained and reinvested to ensure THFC can continue to provide competitively priced funding for HAs long into the future.
THFC’s track record of innovation includes some of the earliest green finance products for retrofit and sustainable developments.

THFC Insights: THFC will be releasing further insights on the SRS disclosures via its intelligence hub, THFC Insights.

For further information contact: Arun Poobalasingam: