Moody’s updates bLEND outlook from negative to stable following rating action on the sovereign bond rating

Moody’s has changed the outlook for bLEND Funding plc (bLEND), a fully-owned subsidiary of The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC), to stable from negative and affirmed the rating at A2.

This rating action follows Moody’s rating action taken on the Government of the United Kingdom (UK, Aa3 Stable)’s sovereign bond rating on 20 October 2023. The outlook on the UK’s rating was changed to stable from negative and the ratings were affirmed.

The change in outlook reflects Moody’s view that the credit quality of the underlying participants of the pool will improve for the same reasons as highlighted above for the wider housing association sector.

The affirmation reflects underlying strengths of the UK housing association sector, the presence of a liquidity reserve which provides a structural enhancement to the pool and the strong management of the pool programme by The Housing Finance Corporation.

The updated Moody’s credit opinion can be downloaded here.

Notes to Editors

About THFC: The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) is the UK’s leading affordable housing aggregator, with over £8bn of lending to around 160 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.

For further information contact:

Piers Williamson, Chief Executive – Piers.Williamson@thfcorp.com

Will Stevenson, Group Treasurer – Will.Stevenson@thfcorp.com

Danielle Hughes, ESG Strategy and Communications Manager – Danielle.Hughes@thfcorp.com

West Kent secures new £50m funding deal to build more affordable homes across Kent in years to come

West Kent secures new £50m funding deal to build more affordable homes across Kent in years to come

The £50m flexible loan facility from The Housing Finance Corporation has been announced today. The deal will support West Kent’s ambition to build more affordable homes across Kent in the coming years.

West Kent has the ambition to continue to grow to 10,000 homes alongside investing in their current portfolio to ensure their homes better meet residents current and future needs. In the current unpredictable market, this agreement with The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) provides a flexible approach to accessing loan finances.

The new funding has been secured in line with West Kent’s strategic plan, which steers the housing association’s ambitions to build new homes and improve existing ones for residents across the county.

Maria Organ, Executive Director of Finance at West Kent said; “We are financially stronger as a result of this agreement, which will support our stock investment and growth plans for the years ahead. We want to provide homes and build communities our residents are proud to live in, which is why this loan agreement with THFC is so significant. The flexible loan facility we have agreed will support us in managing our liquidity needs in unpredictable market conditions at the same time as meeting our ambitions.”

Gavin Richards, Relationship Manager at THFC said; “It has been a pleasure to work with West Kent and their advisors Savills Financial Consultants on this new loan agreement, which will enable the provision of new affordable housing to countless families in the area. Having had a relationship with West Kent for 15 years in various roles, it is great that bLEND can continue to support this strong organisation in continuing to deliver new energy efficient homes in my home county of Kent. I am delighted to continue and expand the longstanding relationship with them.”

This deal was supported by Savills Financial Consultants and Anthony Collins Solicitors.

Mike Roche, Director at Savills Financial Consultants, said; “West Kent has worked hard to put the building blocks in place to allow this flexible funding arrangement. This is an exciting development, which ensures West Kent has its options open, despite the challenging wider economic context. We are very pleased to have been able to support Maria and her team in making this deal happen.”

Natalie Singh, Partner at Anthony Collins said; “We are delighted to have worked alongside West Kent on this transaction and support it to achieve its ambitions. Not only will this agreement support West Kent’s liquidity requirements, but it will support the delivery of more homes in its communities across Kent.”

For more information on the work of West Kent, please visit – westkent.org

For more information on THFC, please visit – thfcorp.com

For further information please contact:

West Kent’s Communications and Marketing team: communicationsteam@wkha.org.uk or 01732 749400

THFC’s office: offices@thfcorp.com or 02073 379920

Notes to Editors:

West Kent Housing Association was established in 1989 to accept the transfer of homes from Sevenoaks District Council. It was one of the first large scale voluntary transfer associations in the country. West Kent is a not-for-profit organisation regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing.

We were the first ‘excellent’ housing association in the country and the first gold standard Investor in People in Kent. We work across Kent, where we own and manage over 8,200 homes, working closely with all the local authorities in the area and many other statutory and voluntary partners. Our vision is to deliver places to live and space to grow for our current and future residents.

The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) is the UK’s leading affordable housing aggregator, with over £8bn of lending to around 160 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.

bLEND unlocks new flexible funding for RPs with £100m loan facility for VIVID

Latest deal paves way for housing associations to access liquidity on flexible terms.

 

bLEND has created a new form of flexible loan facility with its £100m offer to VIVID Housing (‘VIVID’). The new facility will provide flexibility for VIVID, giving it up to three years to draw down in smaller amounts if required. The approach will support VIVID’s ambitious development programme and provide flexibility on when to lock in long-term rates.

Following the addition of VIVID to the bLEND portfolio, Moody’s also reaffirmed bLEND’s A2 negative rating. bLEND continues to maintain its rating amid a backdrop of wider sector downgrades by the rating agencies, benefitting from the management practices of THFC which support the strength and stability of the pool.

THFC’s relationship with VIVID dates back to 1991, when the aggregator lent to the housing associations that merged in 2017 to form VIVID.

Based in Hampshire, VIVID is a leading provider of affordable homes and support services in the South of England. The landlord serves approximately 72,000 customers and operates in 23 local authorities, managing approximately 33,000 homes. VIVID have strong ambitions to contribute to the affordable housing supply, with a target to build 17,000 new homes between 2017 and 2027.

VIVID is an adopter of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) and will be incorporated into bLEND’s SRS report in the 2023 reporting season.

Gavin Richards, Relationship Manager at bLEND who worked with VIVID to establish the loan, said: “It has been great working with the team at VIVID to develop a flexible approach to their liquidity and funding requirements and strengthening our support of one of the strongest and most ambitious housing associations.”

Arun Poobalasingam, Head of Relationship Management and Product Development at THFC, said: “We are delighted to agree this loan facility with VIVID. We believe that the flexibility we can offer associations makes THFC attractive in the current economic environment, where borrowers need to move quickly to take advantage of potential long-term funding opportunities.”

Duncan Brown, Chief Financial Officer at VIVID, said: “In an unpredictable market we’re keen to have a range of options for accessing liquidity when we need it. The flexibility this new facility offers is a great addition to our portfolio. We enjoy working with the team at THFC and are really pleased with this new product.”

Notes to Editors

About THFC: The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC) is the UK’s leading affordable housing aggregator, with over £8bn of lending to around 160 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.

About VIVID: Our vision is “more homes, bright futures.” We’re doing all we can to help people through the cost-of-living crisis. We invest in communities and address the shortage of affordable housing in the south, building the right type of homes to meet society’s needs. We’re the fourth largest developer of new homes amongst housing associations in England, having built over 1,400 last year and our target is to have built 17,000 more new homes in the 10 years since our creation in 2017.

For further information contact:

Arun Poobalasingam, Head of Relationship Management and Product Development – arun.poobalasingam@thfcorp.com

Danielle Hughes, ESG Strategy and Communications Manager – Danielle.Hughes@thfcorp.com

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: Arun.Poobalasingam@thfcorp.com