This year, Golden Lane Housing became the first specialist housing provider in the UK to adopt the Sustainability Reporting Standard (SRS). Here Warren Bradley, Director of Legal and Governance at Golden Lane, explains why it was a ‘no brainer’ for the landlord to adopt the standards.

“It will never work”.  Just one of the comments made after Golden Lane Housing was set up, in 1998, to support people with Learning Disabilities to come out of long stay institutions and hospital settings, in order to enjoy a better quality of life and independent living.

Funding has, and always will be, an issue for us.  With no public subsidy available, no stock transferred to us, and without an endowment, we have, from an early stage, had to successfully demonstrate our social impact to potential investors.  Our funding model, which supports the growth of owned properties, has allowed us to differentiate ourselves from what the Regulator has termed ‘Lease Based Providers.’ Our first ever Social Investment Bonds were issued in 2003.

Reporting on our social impact, for example, when housing people following an abuse scandal, such as the one at Budock long-stay hospital, in Cornwall, has been vital to securing funding, but also a moral obligation.  Leading on sector best practice and influencing is part of our DNA.

In 2014, Golden Lane Housing pioneered the Retail Charity Bond platform.  The most recent issuance in 2021 was oversubscribed, closed early, and had the lowest coupon achieved to date, illustrating that we remain a very attractive funding opportunity for impact investors with a strong social purpose.

In recent years, ‘The Good Economy’ has rated Golden Lane Housing as ‘high/green’ in its assessment of social bond issuers.  We were listed in the top 25 holdings for ‘Big Issue Invest’, alongside organisations such as Morrisons and the Wellcome Trust.

Maintaining a great reputation with our tenants and their families, existing stakeholders, and attracting new investors, is a golden thread that runs through everything that the organisation does.

Our reputation and our impact has attracted high calibre independent Board Members.  Recruiting colleagues from The Housing Finance Corporation; MORhomes; Wells Fargo and Lloyd’s Bank.  The Board has been instrumental in providing leadership, direction and steering the strategy of the organisation.

It’s been something of a no brainer for our Board to embrace the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) that has been produced with The Good Economy, and we are keen to be seen as a leader in the specialised supported housing sub-sector on Environmental, Social and Governance reporting.

The SRS is a voluntary reporting framework, covering 48 criteria across Environmental Social and Governance considerations, such as zero carbon targets, affordability, safety and tenant voice.  Adopters are asked to at least report on the 30 core criteria.

It’s been great to see Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the NHF, championing Environmental, Social and Governance reporting in the sector press.  Emphasising it as an important way of sharing transparent and benchmarkable information with lenders.

Like many organisations we do the S and the G well.  However, working collaboratively with The Good Economy, and other early adopters of the SRS, we are excited to be part of the positive sector narrative and look forward to reporting on our environmental impact over the coming years.