Sovereign, along with more than 60 banks, investors and housing associations have today become early adopters of an industry-led ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) sustainability reporting standard, designed to unlock institutional investment to help tackle the UK’s deepening housing crisis.
– The Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (“the Standard”) will address the lack of transparency, consistency and comparability in reporting ESG performance.
– Lloyds, NatWest, LGIM and M&G are among more than 25 investors and lenders already committed to the Standard.
– Social housing is understood to be first UK sector to come together with lenders and investors to create a common sustainability reporting standard.
– Standard offers a blueprint to other sectors where a multitude of ESG reporting frameworks is fuelling inconsistency and a lack of transparency.
– Roll-out of the Standard across the social housing sector will be governed by a new industry representative standards board, which will be operational in 2021.
– The Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing was unveiled today by the ESG Social Housing Working Group, a unique collaboration of 18 banks and investors, housing associations, service providers and impact investing organisations.
The working group was set up in 2019 in response to concerns ESG investment was being inhibited by the absence of a common reporting standard. As with many other sectors across the economy, there has been a plethora of ESG reporting frameworks, resulting in reporting that lacked transparency, was prone to inconsistency and was incomparable.
The aim of the Standard is to provide a voluntary reporting framework for housing providers to report on their ESG performance in a transparent, consistent and comparable way. This will make it easier for lenders and investors to assess the ESG performance of housing providers, identify ESG risks and opportunities to create positive social and environmental outcomes.
So far, more than 60 organisations (34 housing associations and 27 lenders and investors) have committed to become early adopters of the Standard. Participating housing associations – including Sovereign, Optivo, Clarion and Peabody – will report against the standard on an annual basis. Meanwhile lenders and investors, including Lloyds Banking Group, Legal & General Investment Management, M&G and NatWest, have agreed to use the standard in their investment and credit policies, processes and/or product design.
The Standard covers 48 criteria across ESG considerations such as affordability, fire safety and net zero carbon emissions, which are unveiled in a final report of the working group today. The report follows an earlier draft of the criteria, published in May as part of a sector-wide consultation. The consultation received feedback from more than 400 individuals, including representatives from housing associations, investors, trade bodies, financial experts and tenants’ groups.
Tracey Barnes, chief financial officer at housing association Sovereign, said: “The Sustainability Reporting Standard will play a pivotal role at Sovereign in our approach to performance reporting, enabling further transparency for our customers, investors, and other stakeholders. As early adopters of ESG, this will clearly drive environmental improvements and assure Sovereign’s clarity as an organisation of social purpose.”
The Standard will be overseen by a new Social and Affordable Housing: Sustainability Reporting Standards Board, which will be established in early 2021. A Governance Steering Committee has been set-up to oversee the establishment of this board, chaired by Susan Hickey, a former Chief Financial Officer at Peabody Trust, with secretariat support from the Impact Investing Institute.
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