Housing group achieves better turnover and surplus figures for 2022

The shell of Ancoats Dispensary

Manchester-based housing provider, Great Places Housing Group, has posted better surplus and turnover figures for the year to March 31, 2022.

In a fourth quarter trading update today, it revealed a full year surplus of £19.9m, up from 314.8m a year ago, which it said is almost exactly in line with budget.

Total turnover for the year was £159.7m, compared with £137.7m in 2021, and operating surplus was £45.7m, against £40.2m a year ago.

Rental income was slightly below budget due to delayed handovers of new developments and operating costs were slightly higher than budget due to increased investment in homes.

The group said COVID continued to be an adverse factor for much of the year, contributing to development delays and also leading to higher than planned absence which led to additional sub-contractor costs to maintain repairs service delivery.

It also saw higher than planned volumes of shared ownership staircasing and Right To Acquire sales, while its open market and first tranche sales targets were both exceeded.

Drawn debt, excluding bond premium, fair value adjustments and loan fees and including finance leases, as at March 2022 was £652.2m, compared with £661.1m in 2021, with the movement due to scheduled loan repayments.

A new £100m revolving credit facility with RBS/Natwest was completed in March 2022, renegotiating and restructuring the maturing £85m existing facility, adding £15m of new money and extending the maturity of the new facility to 2027.

Cash balances, excluding cash held on behalf of leaseholders, were £119.5m (March 2021: £135.4m) with undrawn bank facilities immediately available of £143.8m, of which £73.8m is fully secured and the remaining £70m subject to a release and recharge exercise following the RBS/NatWest loan amendment and will complete shortly.

The group’s internal financial ‘Golden Rules’ around interest cover, gearing and operating margin were all met at the end of the period.

Today’s update revealed that 557 affordable homes were completed during 2021-22, the highest number in recent years. Demand for shared ownership and outright sales products remains incredibly strong.

Customer satisfaction was 7.0/10 against a target of 7.3/10, with services impacted by increased colleague sickness as a result of COVID, with average days sickness absence per employee being 10.5 days against an 8.6 day target. Customer satisfaction has shown improvement in the latter half of the year.

Arrears at the end of March was four per cent, totalling £3.16m, against the year-end target of 3.8% (£2.96m).

The group said that, while it has just missed target, this is only the second time this year where arrears performance has been worse than last year. It expected higher arrears due to high levels of inflation and soaring energy costs which will disproportionately impact residents.

At a meeting on May 5, 2022, the board approved the 2022/23 business plan, which confirms a commitment to deliver 11,000 new homes in the 10-year period April 2020 to March 2030.

Among the group’s projects is the redevelopment of Ancoats Dispensary, on Old Mill Street in Manchester city centre, which involves the retention of two Grade II-listed façades, the restoration and reconstruction of a Grade II-listed tower, with new build works to the rear and a two-storey extension.

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