The lives of domestic abuse victims will be improved after one of England’s largest housing associations announced its first interest savings on two sector-leading sustainable loans.
Bromford, with 45,000 homes across the Midlands and South West, is starting to reap the rewards of a successful partnership with NatWest and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) after securing two Sustainability-Linked Loans (SLLs) in the past financial year. Those loans, worth a combined £125m, generate savings for meeting environmental, social, and governance goals around the energy efficiency of its homes (NatWest) and reducing its gender pay gap (SMBC). Over the life of the loans, it could see a significant six-figure amount reinvested into its communities.
As part of efforts to reduce homelessness, domestic abuse, and hate crime, Bromford will now invest its first year interest savings into a new pilot scheme with The Safe Partnership which will provide a range of safety and security measures for vulnerable people. This includes features such as improved window and door locks, personal safety alarms, and sanctuary rooms. The sustainable funds will also go towards outdoor security lighting, CCTV, fencing, and other steps to keep customers safe.
The housing association’s drive to use its sustainability loan savings to support vulnerable customers comes after the Government published latest figures showing that a staggering 27% of women aged 16 to 74 had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16.
Hazel O’Halloran, Bromford’s homelessness lead, said the investment would prevent customers from fleeing their homes and becoming homeless, with over 100 people likely to benefit from these enhanced security measures and support each year.
“Domestic abuse and hate crime has a devastating impact on victims, their friends, family, wider community, and society at large,” Hazel added. “And that is why it’s fantastic these partnerships with our major lenders enable us to invest in additional security measures which will allow dozens of our customers at risk to continue living safely in their homes.”
Imran Mubeen, Director of Treasury at Bromford, said: “We entered into our partnerships with the banks to support and deliver our sustainability ambitions. The SLLs have been a powerful way of developing broad communities within Bromford to shine a light on particular themes of sustainability — and whilst carbon reduction is a central pillar of our strategy, it’s much more than that. These loans have led to a reduction in our gender pay gap, now at 7.2%, with an even greater focus on equality, diversity, and inclusion. Our linkage to SAP ratings has been a key enabler to drive 86% of existing homes now at SAP C energy rating or above.
“We are delighted to say we have achieved our year one targets and are well on track to achieve our year two targets too. Together with NatWest and SMBC, we remain committed to completing a virtuous sustainability circle by putting this cash back into our communities and delivering even more social value for our customers. We all have a right to live in safe environment, and funding the Safer Partnerships project will make a real and lasting difference to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and will ultimately help us tackle homelessness across our communities.”
Hedley Hadfield, Director of Housing Finance at NatWest, commented: “NatWest were delighted to work with Bromford in agreeing the new Sustainable Linked Loan in 2020, at the time the first SLL NatWest provided to the social housing sector. Having achieved the stretching targets agreed for the year end March 2021, we were very pleased to be able to start passing on the benefits of the agreed reduced interest margin and commitment fees.
“NatWest fully endorses Bromford’s decision to use the savings achieved from the NatWest SLL to support their vulnerable tenants. Using the funds for this purpose shows the positive impact that having an SLL in place can make to individuals lives.
“NatWest is delighted to be able to support Bromford in their efforts to reduce domestic abuse and improve the personal safety of their tenants. In partnership with SafeLives, domestic abuse charity, NatWest launched the Circle Fund in 2021 which has so far supported 111 frontline domestic abuse service providers, with over £290k distributed to date.”
A spokesperson from SMBC added: “SMBC is pleased to support Bromford in its initiative which clearly benefits vulnerable individuals and contributes to the social enhancement of the communities we serve.”