For many years Sovereign has been building strong foundations and increasing our independence and resilience.
As we revealed in our Annual Report and Financial Statements 2014/15, we improved our service performance, built around 1,000 homes across a range of tenures and supported residents in achieving their aspirations. We did this while also achieving a strong and stable financial performance.
2014 was the first year of our new strategy, and one key strand of that approach was concentrating our stock and investment in a core operating area, providing a better and more local service as well as realising operational efficiencies.
We’ve made significant progress, selling more than 600 homes and acquiring around 200.
And overall, thanks to our development programme, we now own and manage 37,875 properties, homes for more than 88,000 residents.
This growth saw Sovereign’s surplus for the year increase from £31m to £45m in 2014/15. The underlying surplus, if you take out the receipts from the stock sales, was broadly in line with last year.
That surplus allows us to invest in building more much-needed homes and providing quality landlord services.
Some other notable highlights include a record-low for Current Tenant Arrears, falling from 2.83% to 1.99%; resident satisfaction scores of over 90 per cent across the majority of services; and more than 600 residents helped towards employment.
However, the world in which housing associations operate is changing fast, and since the Budget the sector is being asked to up its game once again.
You may have heard that housing associations are discussing a proposal with government on Right to Buy, making it a voluntary rather than statutory scheme. The proposal will give people in social housing the chance to own a home, and in return we’ll maintain our independence and receive the freedom and flexibility to build and replace the homes as quickly as possible.
Sovereign has agreed to this approach, we think it is the best solution to a difficult dilemma. And given our strong results from last year, I’m sure that we will be able to continue to meet this challenge.