| 03 August 2020
Summary: Our latest annual report shows a well-governed organisation in strong financial health, which continues to improve the services we provide to customers, residents and communities.
Serving people better every day
One of the central aims of the merger which created MTVH in October 2018 was to better serve customers and residents in the areas that matter most to them. In 2019/20, we made progress in this across a range of areas, including investing £129m in maintaining and improving our residents’ homes (2018/19: £118m).
Another major milestone in designing and delivering improved services during the year was the launch of MTVH Online: a new digital platform which allows customers to report repairs, pay bills and raise enquiries quickly and easily, 24 hours a day. By the end of the financial year, more than 12,000 customers had registered for the service.
We also continued to deliver positive outcomes through our community investment work. This included supporting more than 3,000 people into employment and training (2018/19: 1,800) and securing £1.4m in financial gains for people through our money advice services (2018/19: £1m).
A well-run, financially stable organisation
Following an in-depth assessment of the organisation in January 2020, the Regulator of Social Housing re-affirmed our existing ‘G1’ rating for governance and ‘V2’ rating for financial viability – recognising our robust governance arrangements and stable financial position. During the year, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s also confirmed our credit rating at A-, with a stable outlook.
Our financial position remains strong, with £649m of available cash resources (2018/19: £549m). Other key financial metrics for 2019/20 include turnover at £465m (2018/19: £411m), of which lettings income was £295m (2019: £288m). Adjusted operating surplus was £131m (2018/19 £154m), impacted by bad debt provisions and asset impairment costs – both Covid-related measures – as well as our commitment to continue investing in our properties.
Building new homes and keeping residents safe
In 2019/20, we expanded our development pipeline to 6,914 homes (2018/19: 6,506), with a plan in place to build more than 15,000 new homes over the next 10 years. During the year, we built 1,023 new homes (2018/19: 1,037), of which 274 were for social and affordable rent, 507 for shared ownership and 242 for market sale.
2019/20 also saw us establish a new Safer Buildings team to identify and address risk across our existing properties. In line with government guidelines, this team has already carried out investigations across our taller buildings, and has developed an approach to risk prioritisation to ensure that any necessary work is carried out as efficiently as possible.
Worcester Park fire
Building safety came into particular focus following the major fire at Richmond House on The Hamptons development in Worcester Park, south-west London – in which 23 households lost their homes. We worked quickly to support those directly affected and to ensure the safety of other residents on the surrounding estate.
Following in-depth investigations by independent experts into the construction of the buildings we own at The Hamptons, agreement has been reached with the original developer, St James (part of Berkeley Group), for them to progress with required external remedial works. We also continue to work with St James and the London Borough of Sutton to move forward with the rebuild of Richmond House.
We have had to respond quickly and adaptively to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Maintaining people’s safety and wellbeing, and ensuring their needs continue to be met has been a top priority. Throughout the pandemic, we maintained frontline services such as Care and Support operations and NHS keyworker accommodation schemes thanks to the dedication of our frontline colleagues. Regional teams also worked in partnership with local authorities, agencies and businesses to ensure at-risk resident could access essential items, such as food and medication, as well other support.
A Coronavirus Support Hub was established shortly after lockdown measures were introduced to provide targeted help and referrals. We also put in place a programme of proactive welfare calls to those believed to be most at risk – with more than 6,000 calls made at the time of writing.
Recognising that people perform at their very best for customers when they feel they can be themselves at work, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is central to our identity and workplace culture. This year, we relaunched our colleague diversity network, with groups for LGBTQ+, BAME and female colleagues, as well as those who work part-time hours, have disabilities or mental health challenges, or who wish to demonstrate their commitment as allies. We were proud to see our place as a Stonewall Top 200 employer reaffirmed in 2020.
More recently, following the death of George Floyd in the USA, Zoom sessions were held for colleagues to share their thoughts feelings, and lived experience of racism in a supportive environment. Hundreds attended the sessions, with both our Chief Executive Geeta Nanda and Chair Althea Efunshile contributing.
We also marked Windrush Day 2020 with a virtual programme of events for colleagues. This included the premiere of a film about our Windrush history and the story of how our founders worked to provide safe and affordable homes for the people who came from the Commonwealth to rebuild Britain in the 1950’s.
Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley, said:
“We’ve made significant progress in the year, working hard to serve people better every day. That progress has relied on our strength and resilience as an organisation, and we’re pleased both with our financial performance in 2019/20, and the Regulator of Social Housing’s recent recognition of our robust governance arrangements and stable financial position.
“Facing into the future, there is much uncertainty about the longer term economic and health impacts of Covid-19. However, we are ambitious to work with our customers, residents and communities to meet their needs, and play our part in helping people to have a home and the chance to live well.”