Bank to lend £15m to help housing associations create warmer homes and greener communities
Triodos Bank has created a dedicated £15 million lending pot for social housing providers to make energy efficient improvements to current housing stock to alleviate fuel poverty and develop green spaces.
The bank, which will take no direct security at the outset of the Warmer Homes and Greener Community loans, said the initiative is a move to raise living standards for the UK’s most vulnerable residents.
Neil Hewitt, a specialist business banking relationship manager to the housing sector at Triodos Bank, explained the need for banks to create solutions to help social housing providers meet such needs.
He said: “The problem for small-medium housing providers is that investments are focussed on new developments, often at the expense of making vital improvements to homes – for both future and current tenants. Even if housing providers show good financial track records, lenders have traditionally only been able to finance loans by taking security. Also with an emphasis on increasing housing density this comes at the expense of the development of green community spaces for and peoples well-being.
“We’re delighted to have created a policy where it was possible for social housing providers to access a loan, where we will take no direct security at the outset. This financial solution is innovative in that it supports the social housing sector in delivering environmental and social benefits to some of the UK’s most vulnerable people, helping to build communities.”
Alongside the financial challenges in the housing crisis such as heating homes, many developments lack community spaces and areas of natural habitats, which are formally recognised as having a direct benefit in supporting mental and physical wellbeing.
Kevin McCloud, broadcaster and director of sustainable affordable housing provider HAB Housing, said that creating lower impact homes and communities are essential to ensuring that living standards are raised.
He added: “Any housing development needs to consider the impact it will have on people and the planet. While tackling the housing crisis with increased numbers, we need to be building homes that are not only cost effective for the people who live there but that also offer wider environmental and aesthetic benefits, with amenity spaces that people are proud to live in. Innovative solutions, including access to finance from banks like Warmer Homes and the Greener Community loan from Triodos, is to be encouraged.”
Triodos Bank has provided access to finance for the social housing sector for over eight years, reaching a £250m lending milestone in December last year.
Bevis Watts, managing director of Triodos Bank UK, explained the need to help housing associations protect the interests of their most vulnerable tenants.
Bevis said: “We believe banks should be thinking about the long-term needs of society and working in partnership to develop finance initiatives that address the real challenges we face, like climate change, fuel poverty, lack of affordable housing and many more. We hope this is an example of how finance can work for good. Banks use your money and we should all be examining whether they do so in our own interests.”
Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA), alongside Community Energy Scotland, has recently benefitted from a Tridos loan to take forward the first community wind farm developed by a housing association.
Helen Forsyth, chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association, told Scottish Housing News: “We have a loan from Triodos to finance our community wind farm which we secured last year. We found their willingness to regularly talk to us and our Board and take feedback on the process of drawing down payments as among the benefits of working with Triodos. We have a very strong relationship with our manager there and we have been on the journey of developing the wind farm together it has felt like a team approach.”