26 Oct 2022

An environmental, social and governance focus helps make what matters brilliant

Midland Heart has been working hard to build better homes and communities in the Midlands for almost 100 years; providing homes for people who cannot afford one, developing sustainable communities people want to live in, and invest in. We’ve done this by recognising the need to continuously adapt to change, across the homes we rent, the homes we build and the way we work.

In this spirit, I was proud that last year, Midland Heart was one of several organisations who led the way by publishing the sector’s first environmental, social and governance (ESG) reports, and early adoption of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing. Since then, the COP26 conference of national and global leaders, held in Glasgow, set out a series of renewed pledges to achieve climate goals. We have joined both the UK housing and commercial sectors in committing to achieving net zero carbon by 2050 and a more sustainable future via meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and we’ve worked hard to prioritise these obligations.

Now we are preparing to publish our second ESG report, highlighting the work we’ve done to meet our ESG goals over the last twelve months. Our current corporate plan, Making What Matters Brilliant, makes reaching net zero carbon a key priority. I’m pleased to say that we’ve made significant strides towards achieving this.

For example, we’ve achieved 55 per cent of our homes being rated at EPC C or better and removed EPC G homes from our portfolio altogether. We have also continued to reduce the number of our homes rated at EPC E by installing thousands of energy efficiency measures and technologies, from fabric measures to electric heating. We’ve also entered into a relationship with British Gas to advance our shared goal of increasing energy efficiency in as many homes as possible at lower cost.

Our Project 80 initiative is building the UK’s first homes to meet the government’s Future Homes Standard, using 80-90 per cent less carbon, saving our customers an anticipated 65 per cent on their energy bills. On both our Project 80 sites, in Handsworth and Edgbaston respectively, tenants are now living in Future Homes Standard homes, saving money on their bills, and supporting us to deliver the homes of tomorrow. To make sure we learn from their experiences and share this with others, Birmingham City University are monitoring the low carbon technologies used in these properties and talking to our tenants about their experiences.

As well as meeting our environmental responsibilities, at Midland Heart, we strive hard to be a ‘best in class’ landlord providing ‘best in class’ services to our tenants – and this means meeting our social purpose too. For example, to support our customers during the cost of living crisis, our Money Advice Team of FSA accredited advisors is offering independent advice, helping customers get on top of their finances, and sustain their tenancies. Last year, they supported our customers with £2.468m in income maximisation, increasing incomes and reducing debts. We’ve also created 15 new apprenticeships for local young people; from multi-trade operatives to cyber security engineers and promoted our apprenticeships in schools across the region, ensuring that young people in our communities know what opportunities are open to them.

We also actively support and empower our colleagues to thrive and grow, irrespective of their background. We’ve introduced two new development schemes aimed at our female and black colleagues to help them fulfil their potential and progress their careers and expanding our apprenticeships to trade industries.

Ultimately, what we do for colleagues and customers alike, matters. We take our responsibility and role as a major regional employer and landlord seriously and will continue to do all we can to do these things brilliantly.

Finally, despite all the challenges we have faced, our governance remains strong with Midland Heart retaining the highest possible G1/V1 rating from the Regulator for Social Housing. I am happy and proud to say Midland Heart has met the many challenges of recent years with professionalism and fortitude. ‘Making What Matters Brilliant’ means concentrating more than ever on the challenges of the future. We will continue to focus on putting our customers and organisation in the strongest possible position.

Our 2022 ESG report can be found HERE.

Written by Glenn Harris

Glenn is CEO of Midland Heart.