Social housing sector delivers ‘another strong year of investment’

2017 global accounts show the sector, as a whole, is well-placed to respond to its changing operating environment.

The social housing sector has delivered ‘another strong year of investment’ in new and existing properties according to the 2017 global accounts.

Based on analysis of submitted regulatory returns and statements, the annual publication from the Regulator of Social Housing provides an overview of the financial status of private registered providers of social housing who own or manage at least 1,000 homes.

The main findings for 2017 are:

  • The sector invested £10bn in new housing supply (including social housing, as well as investment in properties for sale, and market rent) and £1.6bn in existing stock. Total investment of £11.6bn represents a 15% increase on 2016
  • Of this, investment in new and existing social housing stock was £7.9bn, including £6.3bn in new rental supply – an increase of £0.7bn on 2016. Investment was funded by past surpluses, debt and grant and resulted in the completion of 41,000 social homes for rent
  • Turnover was unchanged at £20bn, as providers have implemented the 1% rent reduction on general needs units (required under the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016), offset by additional rental income from new properties
  • Operating margins have increased by 2% to 30%, through reductions in operating expenditure – social housing costs per unit decreased by 7% to £3,698, with reductions in both management and maintenance costs
  • Total debt held by the sector increased by £2.9bn to £69.6bn
  • Interest cover was again strong at over 200% excluding one-off breakage costs, servicing existing debt and supporting additional investment
  • The underlying net surplus was £3.5bn – a 7% increase on 2016, with reported net surplus of £4.1bn. The reported net surplus is increased by the one-off gains reported on mergers of £0.6bn and is not indicative of recurring performance.

Fiona MacGregor, director of regulation at the Homes and Communities Agency, said this year’s figures show that the social housing sector is continuing to invest substantially in existing stock and new supply and, as a whole, is well-placed to respond to the changing operating environment.

“The sector has consolidated over recent years and there are now a small number of very large providers; significant changes in these providers can have a material effect on sector results,” said MacGregor.

“The year-on-year decrease in management costs and major repairs expenditure demonstrate how the first 12 months of rent reductions have been managed.

“While the lower repairs spend partly indicates the progress being made towards reducing non-decent stock we will continue to encourage providers to have a rigorous, evidence-based approach to expenditure and investment, which ensures that housing is sustainable for the long term, responds to tenant needs and gives good value for money.”

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