Our year in review - Mark Washer
Last year I spoke about Sovereign’s ambitious vision, set out in its new Corporate Plan, and the enthusiasm of people throughout the business to deliver. As the year ends I’m delighted to report that we have made great progress against those exciting new targets.
The coronavirus crisis shone a light on those plans and the things that are most important to us and our customers and has reinforced our emphasis on three core pillars: quality services, more opportunity, more homes, better places, and strong foundations, more choice. This means giving our residents the best in customer service and the opportunity to create the communities they want to live in. It means building more, using land-led deals so that we can focus on long-term place-making and it means investing in the best technology and people to keep Sovereign at the forefront of affordable housing in the UK.
As the year progressed, I frequently found myself observing that no part of the business is in a steady state. This reflects the scale of the ambition that we have set ourselves, and during the year, that ambition really started to take shape. Our progress across the board, for example in enhancing the digital offer for our customers, completing an exciting new approach to Strategic Asset Management and moving away from Fixed Term Tenancies all showcase an ambitious organisation working hard to create an exciting vision for the future.
Gordon has already mentioned our great response to the challenges of the pandemic and the resultant lockdown. Alongside our ongoing work on the impact of the crisis, our focus continues to be on the future. First, to ensure that we re-establish service levels as quickly and as smoothly as possible; and then, looking to the longer term, asking how those services can and should change for the better.
I would like to pay tribute to our staff who have kept Sovereign operating through very difficult circumstances. Their dedication and resilience, their kindness and reliability, are what have kept us going in such troubled times. Many of the challenges we faced before the pandemic remain.
The housing shortage, affordability, an ageing housing stock, the opportunities afforded by developments in technology, and the need for de-carbonisation of residential properties – all are contemplated in our new corporate plan.
Sovereign’s strong financial position is fundamental to our ability to play a counter-cyclical role in the recovery of the UK economy in the post-Covid-19 environment. We are here for the long term. We’re not focused on the short term and we’re not distributing our resources to shareholders – we’re reinvesting them in our social purpose.
The communities where we work, the homes that we own, and the homes and places that we are yet to build, need that long-term focus and that resilience. Many of those key workers we celebrated and thanked as a nation earlier in the year, currently struggling to access the housing market, deserve a good quality, safe and affordable home in a good environment.
As we pass the third anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy and now, as we look to build a better future after Covid-19, we must combine Sovereign’s traditional strengths and bold vision with a renewed focus on what needs to change and what we can do better.