What Is The SRS?
The Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing was published in November 2020 as a voluntary reporting framework for ESG concerns. This details 48 ESG issues that the Housing Association sector should take into consideration; from stakeholder engagement to zero net carbon targets.
The NHF and The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations both have representatives on the Board that oversees the SRS. These standards essentially focus ESG efforts on targets that are relevant for the sector rather than the overarching ESG standards set for all industries.
What Are The ESG Issues That Affect The Housing Sector?
All the ESG issues that are monitored for the SRS are split into two categories either core or enhanced. This allows Housing Associations to prioritise their efforts into ensuring that they meet the core requirements before moving on to more impressive efforts.
E: Environmental issues:
The focus for environmental issues can be broken up into 3 core areas: climate change, ecology and resource management.
- Energy Performance Certificates of both existing and new homes. The goal for this is to work towards having the most energy efficient homes possible!
- Scope 1 (direct i.e. gas boilers), Scope 2 (indirect i.e. electricity used) and Scope 3 (all other i.e. water and business travel) emissions.
- Energy efficiency actions made in the last 12 months.
- Mitigating climate change risks such as flood or overheating risks in homes.
- Detailed information given to householders on ventilation, heating and recycling.
- Promotion of Biodiversity and Green Spaces on or near the homes.
- Reduction of the amount of pollutants including moulds, lead water pipes, disposal of paints and more.
- Strategy to increase the use of sustainably sourced building materials.
- Strategy for waste management for building materials.
- Strategy for good water management.
S: Social Issues
ESG is about more than just the environment; it also concerns the impact you have on people both locally and internationally. The S in ESG has had a lot of focus in recent years and rightfully so!
For Housing Associations, the main priority is the impact they have on their residents. This has been further limited by the SRS to 5 key areas; affordability and security, building safety and quality, resident voice, resident support and placemaking.
Affordability and Security:
- For properties subject to the rent regulation regime report against one or more of the Affordability Metrics.
- Share and number of existing and then separately new homes allocated to: general needs (social rent), intermediate rent, affordable rent, supported housing, housing for older people, low-cost home ownership, care homes, private rented section and other.
- Strategy for reducing effects of fuel poverty.
- Percentage of homes with at least a 3-year fixed tenancy agreement.
Building Safety and Quality:
- Percentage of homes with an accredited, in-date gas safety check.
- Percentage of homes with an accredited, in-date fire safety check.
- Percentage of homes that meet the national quality standard.
- Qualitative arrangements to hold management accountable for the provision of services.
- Qualitative systems to measure Resident Satisfaction and monitor change over the last three years.
- Number of complaints upheld by the Ombudsman and the change(s) enacted as a result.
- The support services offered to residents and the success they have in improving outcomes.
- Examples of case studies in which the housing association has been engaged in placeholder or place making activities.
The G in ESG concerns a wide range of issues but essentially focuses on ensuring you create a good and forward-thinking working environment. Studies have shown that the happier your staff are the better they work! The SRS has chosen to split this up into 3 key areas; board and trustees, staff wellbeing and the supply chain.
Board and Trustees:
- Percentage demographics of the Board including but not limited to how many are; women, BAME, people who have a disability. Alongside the average age and tenure of the Board.
- Percentage of turnover of Board and Management in the past two years.
- Maximum tenure of a Board Member.
- Percentage of Board are non-executive Directors.
- Number of Board Members on the Audit Committee with recent and relevant financial experience.
- Number of current Executives on Remuneration Committee.
- If a Succession Plan has been approved by the Board in the last 12 months.
- The number of years the external auditing partner has been linked with the Housing Association.
- When was the last independently-run, board effectiveness review.
- If the CEO and the Chairman are two separate people.
- The system for conflict of interests within the Board.
- Percentage of employees paid the Real Living Wage.
- Percentage of the gender pay gap.
- The CEO-worker pay ratio.
- Systems in place to help support the physical and mental health of all staff.
- Average number of sick days taken by employees.
- The method in which Social Value creation is considered when procuring goods and services.
- Systems in which to monitor the environmental impact when procuring goods and services.
How Does The SRS Help ESG Reporting?
The SRS is designed to help alleviate consumer concerns about the ESG practices of social housing whilst making it easier for housing associations to report on ESG. Focusing in on key issues ensures that the Housing Sector will always excel in its ESG goals.
ESG reporting can be tricky but it keeps us all focused on the issues at stake, which helps your employees, residents and investors prioritise sustainability and good governance above all. The SRS can also make ESG scores more sector specific. You may find that aligned with other industries it can be difficult to achieve a good ESG score because ESG is so vast but using the SRS allows you to be compared against your peers effectively.
How Can You Incorporate The SRS Into Your Housing Organisation?
By having regular reliable ESG reports you can begin to make a difference on your ESG goals. The first step is a well formatted, engaging ESG report. The SRS helps you to hone in on the core issues as well as some more expansive goals. It can also help you improve your Housing Governance Rating! You should consider yearly if not quarterly ESG reports to monitor the steady growth of your ESG efforts, as well as making sure that nothing slips under the radar!
How Can Convene Help You Improve Your ESG Reporting?
We have been hard at work developing our own reporting tool and are proud to introduce Convene ESG. Our aim is to alleviate some of the challenges of data gathering, performance tracking, and reporting, helping the housing sustainability, finance and governance teams focus on their transition pathway towards net zero.
We are working in close collaboration with a number of existing Convene housing customers including Orbit and Cartrefi Conwy as part of our early adopters programme. Through their valuable feedback, we will together continue to develop and fine-tune our platform, delivering a robust end-to-end ESG experience.