Sustainability for Housing launches consultation into updated Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing

Sustainability for Housing (SfH) has launched the consultation into Version 2.0 of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS).

The SRS was originally launched in November 2020 by SfH as a voluntary reporting framework. It was designed to enable housing associations to report on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance in a transparent, consistent and comparable manner and to make it easier for lenders and investors to assess ESG performance and to identify key ESG risks within the sector.

Since then, more than 160 organisations have adopted the SRS, including housing associations in England and Wales and many of the sector’s main lenders and investors.

The consultation on Version 2.0 of the SRS reflects a general direction of travel towards greater scrutiny of a widening set of performance metrics, by funders and investors. It follows updates to the Investment Association’s Governance and Disclosure Guidelines which were published in November 2022 and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Reporting Framework (which expects to publish its first set of aggregated results later this year).

Additionally, the updated criteria will reflect new sector requirements, including the Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) amid the recent reports on poor housing conditions.

The updated SRS includes a greater focus on

  • the quality and condition of housing stock;
  • how registered providers manage and mitigate damp and mould risks plus data on gas and fire safety checks and asbestos and legionella risk assessments;
  • disclosures around equality, diversity and inclusion policies and approaches, as well as the training and professional development of staff;
  • net zero strategies, retrofit and environmental disclosures such as Standard Assessment Procedure ratings as well as EPC requirements; and
  • adopters’ net zero strategy in addition to completed energy efficiency work.

Reporting will also include a ‘comply or explain’ approach, along with a request to show year-on-year data comparisons.

The updated SRS criteria was prepared following an initial series of surveys, focus groups and interviews with housing associations and funders. SfH will be consulting on the changes throughout April with publication of Version 2.0 expected this Summer.

ESG reporting is an evolving landscape and the SRS currently represents an aspirational level of disclosure. Achieving the recommended level of transparency will require significant thought and appropriate resource from housing associations. There is significant social value in housing associations but they will need to work on articulating it in a way that helps tick lenders’ ESG boxes.

Please contact Rachel Orgill-Harris or Julian Barker with any queries.

Devonshires has a multi-disciplinary Sustainability and Decarbonisation team of expert lawyers covering all aspects of commercial enterprise, construction, corporate, development, finance, governance, and procurement who specialise in supporting clients with their sustainability, decarbonisation and ESG objectives and how they plan to approach their journey towards net zero carbon/greenhouse gas emissions.

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