What does ESG mean to us?
As a long-term investor into communities – we were founded more than 120 years ago – consideration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and other risks has been routinely embedded into culture and strategies, long before it became fashionable.
We believe robust, transparent, and comparable ESG reporting helps us on our way, enabling our funders, regulators, colleagues, partners, and residents to assess our risk position, and take a view on whether we are doing what we say we will. At the same time, it helps us better understand our business, manage key risks, and shape our future decisions.
As part of our ESG approach, we report against the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) framework. The SRS is a sector-wide reporting standard co-designed in 2020 by housing associations and their funders to provide a comparable, consistent, and transparent approach for the sector. Southern was one of the founding members of the SRS working group and continue to support the Standard’s evolution.
How are we managing environmental risks and doing our bit to address climate change?
- 73% of our homes now have an energy efficiency EPC rating of ‘C’ or above
- 100% new homes commitment to at least EPC B or above
- 32% reduction in our Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions
- 85% maintenance contractors using eco-friendly products and agents.
How are we managing social risks and driving positive social impact?
- 42%: our rent levels versus of the average market rent level, resulting in a £462m market rent discount per annum
- 28,000 people provided advice, support and guidance, with £7.26m secured as added income, grant, benefits and savings support for residents
- £2m discretionary hardship fund for 2023/24, offering a safety net for residents in acute financial distress
- 172 households supported with furnishing and decorating their homes.
How are we ensuring our governance processes remain strong and rigorous?
- 4 ringfenced roles on our board which are filled by residents. This represents a third of the seats on the board.
- Resident Scrutiny Panel which regularly monitors projects that Southern is working on.
- Real Living Wage and London Foundation Living wage to colleagues
- 172 business supply chain partners with social value agreements.
SUSTAINABLE FINANCE FRAMEWORK
Our Sustainable Finance Framework creates a direct link between the way we are financed and our social purpose and sustainability goals.
It sets out our commitment to environmental responsibility, how our activities have a positive impact on people in our communities, and our robust governance framework.
Proceeds from the framework fund a range of sustainable and social projects, including retrofitting our existing housing stock, delivering new affordable housing and a wide range of community investment initiatives that secure better futures for households living in our homes.
We have established a Sustainable Finance Group to oversee our Sustainable Finance Framework, which is responsible for selecting and allocating funds to eligible projects, assessing and reporting social and environmental impacts, and ensuring continued compliance with the framework.