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Sector continues to access finance, but risk management and solid financial planning remain vital

Published date : 19 February 2013

The social housing sector continues to access finance and manage its exposure to the housing market, according to the latest Quarterly Survey (2012/13 Quarter 3) published by the Homes and Communities Agency today. However, as the operating environment remains challenging, the need for individual providers to focus on effective risk management and financial planning continues if they are to meet their strategic objectives.

As the regulator of social housing providers, the HCA undertakes a quarterly survey of housing providers to establish the levels of exposure to a range of risks faced by the sector. This report covers the period 1 October to 31 December 2012 and is based on a survey of all Private Registered Providers owning and/or managing more than 1,000 homes.

The trend towards capital market funding continued in Quarter 3 with £1.0bn raised through bond markets and private placements - representing 84% of new funding raised in the quarter. The report also illustrates that, despite the challenging economic environment, the value of asset sales achieved in the current quarter displays an upward trend for the third consecutive quarter.

Jonathan Walters, Deputy Director of Strategy and Performance, said:

“The sector continues to access the capital markets as its principal source of new, long term debt. We are encouraged by investor demand in this sector and welcome the keen pricing of recent bond issues. Banks remain important to the sector, although new debt from them is generally available for shorter terms. Effective treasury management is fundamental in managing a more balanced funding portfolio.

“Asset sales for the current quarter appear strong and the number of unsold Affordable Home Ownership homes has fallen. We continue to monitor this situation in light of an increased pipeline of new properties expected in the next 18 months.

“The Quarterly Survey is an important mechanism by which we monitor key financial risks. It is essential that providers continue to supply accurate and timely data.”

Key conclusions from this quarter’s survey include:

  • The sector’s total reported borrowing facility is £67.9bn of which £55.8 bn is currently drawn, leaving undrawn facilities of £12.1bn
  • New facilities arranged in the quarter were reported by providers to total £1.2bn (September £1.3bn)
  • Capital market funding and private placements contributed 84% of the new funding (September 60%)
  • Over the next 12 months the sector forecasts drawdowns of £5.1bn (September £4.5bn )
  • 95% of respondents anticipate that current debt facilities are sufficient for more than 12 months
  • On Affordable Home Ownership (AHO), 2,478 first tranche sales were achieved in the quarter (September  2,554); 3,550 remained unsold (September 3,977), of which 1,611 had been unsold for over 6 months (September 1,505)
  • There were 2,059 AHO completions and acquisitions in the quarter (September 1,993)
  • Pipeline AHO completions expected in the next 18 months were 13,666 (September 11,757)

Total asset sales of £562m (September £460m) were achieved in the quarter generating a profit of £159m (September £125m)

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