In 2020-21, we retained our credit ratings of A2 from Moody’s and A+ from Standard & Poor’s, with our outlook upgraded from ‘negative’ to stable. We also continue to hold the highest ratings from the Regulator of Social Housing for both viability (V1) and governance (G1).*
*(June update 2022: Following a self-referral to the Regulator of Social Housing and subsequent issue of a Regulatory notice in January 2022, our governance rating has been downgraded from G1 to G2. The Regulator has confirmed our existing V1 grade for viability. A rating of G2 is compliant and means that we meet the Regulator’s governance requirements but we need to improve some aspects of our governance arrangements to support continued compliance. Read our full response to the governance downgrade.)
Despite the pandemic, we’ve had a strong year - with a turnover of £417.4m, up £6.2m. In 2020-21, a year where our customers, communities and colleagues experienced the unprecedented impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, our financial resilience has been demonstrated through the delivery of a strong set of operational results with an operating surplus almost matching that of last year at £135.6m (2020: £135.9m) and an overall surplus of £78.0m (2020: £79.3m).
An increase in EBITDA MRI was driven by lower activity in capitalised major repairs, with a reduction in receipts from shared ownership first tranche sales of £14.8m to £61.0m being more than offset by an increase in total social and private rental income of £14.3m, and an increase in receipts for open market sales of £8.9m.
With an operational surplus of £135.6m and housing properties with a market value of £13.0bn, our financial and operational performance remains positive. The surplus of £78.0m in 2020-21 was achieved despite the impact of Covid-19. We’ll continue to invest in our homes and services, thinking carefully about a sustainable future as well as raising additional funding from the financial markets to build much-needed new homes.
A strong surplus enables us to invest in the things that matter – more homes, better places, the safety of our buildings and a commitment to zero carbon. Our investment and commitment to building new homes and improving our existing ones continued, as we invested £100.4m in our existing homes and £216.5m in building 1,099 new homes, 96% for affordable tenures.
Our operating costs increased by £9.2m to £225.3m driven by an increase in maintenance costs, offset partially by lower management costs. As we continue to invest in our people and the modernisation of our workspaces, we’re replacing a number of legacy offices with centrally-located operational hubs. Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of flexible and agile working practices, and a focus on technology means that we are ever-more connected and responsive.
We continue to focus on efficiency improvements, as demonstrated by a reduction in the social housing cost per property from £3,357 in 2019-20 to £3,262 in 2020-21. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic we have continued to invest in existing homes as part of our corporate plan while continuing to look for ways to be more efficient, through further reducing administration costs and improving processes.
Management costs have reduced due to lower activity and lockdowns, bringing lower facilities and employee costs. In Q3 2020-21, we launched an organisation-wide, multi-year cost efficiency programme ‘Fit for Growth’, which aims to identify further sustainable efficiencies through procurement savings, process improvements and eliminating unnecessary activities. The aim is to deliver an overall 10% reduction in our operating costs by the end of 2023-24. This will enable more capacity to reinvest in front line services supporting our existing and future residents – and to provide more quality homes and great places to live, while delivering value for money.