This was a year in which the merger between Housing Plus Group and Stafford and Rural Homes transformed our organisation. The merger created a new, larger and more resilient Group which now manages 18,000 homes and provides employment, training and apprenticeships for 860 local people.
That resilience has proved hugely important. The impact of coronavirus, first felt in the final quarter of 2019/20, brought enormous challenge. It meant that we worked differently to support our communities, prioritising the delivery of essential services and the safety of our staff.
We succeeded because we worked together, as we had promised we would, in our merger.
As we prepared to launch our new Group we made a number of pledges underlining our potential to do more as a larger organisation. As you will see from this report, although our operating landscape has been radically redrawn due to the pandemic, we haven’t lost sight of our promise to make a positive difference to homes, lives and communities.
We said that we would offer a wider choice of homes, starting work on 2,000 new homes for rent, shared ownership and outright sale by 2023. In 2019/20 we invested £30m building 211 homes for below market rent and a further 80 for low cost ownership. As a result, we have been named one of the Top 50 Biggest Builders in the country in a report published by Inside Housing magazine.
We committed to providing even better community-based care and support. This year we spent £1m improving the standard of housing for older people. We have also expanded our range of services which support independent living, providing peace of mind and confidence for customers and their families. I am delighted that our Floating Support team is among the finalists for the Support and Care Team of the Year award in the Housing Heroes Awards.
And we pledged to make more of our services available online, so that we can provide a personal service and more support where it is needed. Since merger, we have increased our digital offer to customers, making it possible to report repairs, raise communal maintenance requests and apply for mutual exchanges online..
While social distancing kept us apart, it has been inspiring to see colleagues working together to get the job done. Looking forward, I am determined that the positive outcomes of this experience - our culture of collaboration and challenge – will come to define our Group.
This report gives an overview of our work in 2019/20. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read more about the areas that interest you and to discover animated versions of some of our staff and customers as they share their experiences.