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The Regulator of Social Housing has published the results of its latest quarterly survey of registered providers’ financial health.
The report covers the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.
As with the rest of the economy, registered providers have faced numerous challenges in the quarter due to the impact of coronavirus, including the direct impact of lockdown, the short-term closure of the housing market, and increasing economic uncertainty. Despite this, the data collected shows that the sector is in a strong financial position overall during the quarter.
The sector has good access to finance with £107.1bn of debt facilities in place at the end of June, of which £24.8bn was undrawn.
Available cash balances increased to £6.4bn, and new finance of £4.5bn was agreed in the quarter. This new finance includes £1.3bn from the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, in which eight providers participated.
The short-term closure of the housing market resulted in sales receipts which were about 10% lower than providers’ March forecasts, some of which had not been updated to reflect the expected impact of the pandemic.
Investment in housing supply was £1.8bn in the quarter to June 2020, lower than the total March forecast, but higher than the forecast on contractually committed schemes.
The sustained period of lockdown and associated increase in unemployment has led to an increase in the arrears and void rent loss figures.
Rent collection remained strong at over 97% in aggregate, but this is the lowest level since 2013.
At the same time, mean provider void losses have increased to 2.2%. Offsetting reductions in income, providers’ expenditure on capitalised repairs and maintenance was just over half that incurred during the same period in 2019. This was mainly due to lockdown restrictions on repairs during the quarter.
Forecasts for the next 12 months indicate that the sector expects to increase its development and housing market exposure although not to the same level as pre-coronavirus forecasts. Providers also expect to increase their investment in existing stock, with evidence of plans to reschedule delayed capital expenditure from the first quarter of the financial year.
Will Perry, Director of Strategy at RSH said: "The results of the quarterly survey show that the social housing sector continues to maintain a good financial position in the face of considerable challenges.
"The next few months may mean further uncertainty due to the continued impacts of the pandemic and we expect providers to be ready to respond promptly to the changing environment, alongside maintaining services and investment, and planning for the long term."
You can find the full report here.