On the 13th and 14th March, Convene attended the Housing Finance Conference and Exhibition 2024 as a Knowledge Partner and Exhibitor with Convene ESG. We’d like to thank the National Housing Federation (NHF) for setting up such a thought-provoking conference, and for all those in attendance for their engagement.

The conference provided the space for finance professionals in the Housing sector to discuss some of the sector’s most pressing issues. This year is especially crucial for these discussions, and so the conference was an opportunity for Housing Associations to “take stock before the financial year end and a General Election”, which could lead to substantial consequences for the sector.

The conference allowed financial leadership to join peers, key stakeholders and experts in discussions surrounding the current economic landscape, as well as share concerns and introduce new insights so that Housing Associations can deliver the best possible service for their residents. 

The first day of the conference started with a talk about the ‘big economic picture’ for Housing associations. This was followed by a talk on business planning in the sector, and whether these plans are a sustainable strategy or a short-term fix. 

Then there were the morning breakout sessions, which looked at such topics as business planning and risk management, social impact data reporting, the upcoming trajectory of funding and Housing market updates.

The next breakout sessions looked at issues such as net zero and its economic benefits and redefining the role of the finance team. There was also a financial masterclass on market conditions for pension schemes and a roundtable discussion on how smaller Housing Associations can work together to improve finances.

After lunch, there was a talk on the government’s road to scaling up retrofit, with insights from Selvin Brown. Then there were more breakout sessions. 

In the first of the breakout sessions there were talks on the insurer’s view of the evolution of risk in the sector, the future of AI in Housing finance, how to fund your retrofit project, and a Valuations update for the Housing Market. There were also discussions on what the new regulations mean for social housing providers, a financial masterclass on the changes to Financial Reporting Standards and SORP and a talk on business transformation. 

The second of the sessions for the afternoon looked at topics such as the lessons learned from mergers, the role of digital in Housing finance, the role of profits and investment in pushing the developmental agenda, and building sustainable partnerships with funders. There was another financial masterclass in conversation with HMRC, a talk about elevating the workplace and discussions on V2 and what the ‘new normal’ actually means.

There was a final talk on navigating sector pressures whilst maintaining credit profiles. Then there was a keynote event to finish off the day, which discussed where tech could possibly take the sector.

The second day of the conference started talks about plans for public spending and tax on the sector with the Spring Budget, and how to finance a long-term plan for Social Housing. This was followed by talk by Clive Betts MP, which was an update on the inquiry into the finances and sustainability of the Social Housing sector.

There was another talk on the changes to the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, before more breakout sessions began. The first breakout sessions discussed balancing competing priorities in an uncertain market, repairs and maintenance in digital data, and enabling the regeneration rollout. 

There was also a discussion on the impact the new Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing could have on securing borrowing. This talk features Convene’s own Arturo Dell, who spoke about green finance and the importance of creating a corporate culture where reporting is a priority.

He also spoke about Convene’s own reporting software Convene ESG, and how it can help Housing Associations with their reporting and the prioritisation of said reporting. 

Convene ESG allows you to develop your ESG story by streamlining the administrative process of ESG reporting giving you time to focus on bigger goals and future visions.

Through data collection, peer comparison, and report generation, you are able to monitor your progress, achieve your targets and exhibit your success - creating a company which values ESG and makes a positive difference to the world whilst ensuring you meet regulatory requirements, industry standards and shareholder expectations. 

The next breakout sessions looked at the future of rent policy for the sector, navigating volatility in treasury management, the role of leadership in finance business transformation and had a ‘meet the finance leaders’ talk.

After lunch there was a talk on VAT savings on procurement through the cost sharing exemption. This was then followed by a final set of breakout sessions.

These focused on optimising risk management, the long-term value of investing in cybersecurity, identifying viable models to generate new income, and stock quality and operational costs. There was also a discussion of the cost of living crisis, and whether we are ‘out of the woods yet’. 

The day ended with a talk measuring the impact of Britain’s economic storm on residents, and looking at the future of Housing finance. 

We’d like to again thank the National Housing Federation for giving Convene ESG the opportunity to exhibit at and be a knowledge partner for the Housing Finance Conference and Exhibition 2024. We’d also like to thank all attendees for your engaging discussions and participation in the conference’s exploration of the current state of finance in the Social Housing sector. 

Lottie Wright

Written by Lottie Wright

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