UN Sustainable Development Goals
Making a positive contribution to the communities in which we operate is embedded in our corporate strategy. This is further delivered through the work of the Aster Foundation, investing in our communities and their future through a range of initiatives including our Into Work and Financial Wellbeing services, our Digital College, tackling fuel poverty, mental wellness and resilience and volunteering opportunities. This work, coupled with building as many homes as we can through a range of housing options to support our vision that everyone has a home, aligns to several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
See more detail below:
The structure of this report is aligned to the specific themes outlined in The Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing. Within each theme we have reported against individual criteria. Our reporting is also aligned to the UN SDGs and the table below gives the themes and the specific SDGs to which they relate.
Our vision is that everyone has a home. We are committed to providing homes people can afford inplaces they want to live. We support our customers to sustain their tenancies, to find employment and to access the emotional, financial and physical support they need. We continue to have a strong focus on supporting the local communities in which we work through the Aster Foundation which invests in a series of initiatives to enable local people to improve their own lives. We continue to have a strong focus on supporting the local communities in which we work through the Aster Foundation which invests in a series of initiatives to enable local people to improve their own lives. This includes our Into Work and Financial Wellbeing services, our Digital College, tackling fuel poverty, mental wellness and resilience offer offer and volunteering opportunities. We also support Housing First to tackle homelessness and our Independent Living Services enable independence for our older customers by providing solutions to address a range of exclusion challenges. Our Social incubator, inc. gives social entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow their skills and drive change across our communities while reducing the impact from a host of prevalent social challenges in innovative ways.
The Foundation is set to become a charitable entity this year to amplify our impact further, enabling the better lives of at least 40,000 people by 2030.
Through Aster Solar, we provide green electricity to our customers, reducing fuel poverty and generating profits that can be reinvested into charitable activities. Our customers save between £100 and £200 per annum on electricity bills and carbon emissions are reduced by one tonne of carbon per home, per year. We’re committed to exploring new opportunities and have plans to develop a solar farm on land we own as part of a community energy project, creating green, sustainable and affordable energy for our customers. We also became a founding member of the Good Homes Alliance (GHA) Pathfinder Network. The main aim of the network is to facilitate housing associations to adopt enhanced sustainability, quality, health and performance standards for new housing developments.
The impact of COVID-19 meant that we focused on using technology and virtual collaboration to support our people through furlough, working from home, with children at home and then through further lockdowns. We launched the Thrive mental health app which is endorsed by the NHS and links to our existing Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) services. Our Mental Health First Aid network continued to develop, with volunteers staying updated with training and providing support throughout. We also developed a menopause support programme, including Hot Topic sofa sessions, leader awareness sessions and talks from leading authorities in menopause. Our work has been recognised by Menopause Friendly, who have awarded us the ‘Menopause Friendly Employer’ accreditation. We also published our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) policy and principles as well as launching our first LGBTQ+ colleague network.
We continue to work towards every one of our homes receiving an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025, and through the existing Warm Homes Fund grant, are improving the EPC ratings of 400 of our older homes to a C or above. Of the new homes we delivered during 2020/2021, 97% have an EPC rating of B and we are committed to continuing to build to this standard, as well as introducing the Environmental Impact Rating (EIR) of B or above as a consideration in the appraisal stage of the planning process. The Group also operates a voids disposal, stock option appraisal and land enhancement programme which generated proceeds of £15.7 million in 2020/2021. The proceeds from the disposal programmes will be reinvested into future sustainable developments.
We are committed to creating a fairer and more inclusive culture by creating an environment where diversity in all its forms is welcomed and celebrated. Our diversity principles set out our approach and focus on:
- Knowing our customers and colleagues
- Delivering fairness for all and ensuring everyone has a voice
- Ensuring diversity of thinking
We are accredited by the Disability Confident Scheme and have recently launched our first LGBTQ+ network with support from LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.
In 2020 we became the first non-criminal justice organisation in the UK to be awarded Registered Restorative Organisation status by the Restorative Justice Council.
We supply a wide range of housing options in response to the housing crisis, working towards our vision of ensuring everyone has a home. We provide safe, well maintained homes supported by long-term investment in communities where people choose to live. We strive to create communities our customers are proud to call home and invest in the future of our communities through the Aster Foundation, the work we choose to do over and above our landlord and development activities.
Operating under the ISO 14001 standards, we are continuously looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint and maximise our use of green and renewable energy. All of our new build homes meet current sustainability targets and we are committed to ensuring that every one of our existing homes meets a minimum EPC rating of C or above by 2025. We are invested in using renewable energy sources like solar to reduce our environmental impact and we are taking an agile approach to office space to create a more sustainable model for the future.
We are committed to minimising the impact of housing on the environment where we can. As a founding member of the GHA Pathfinder Network we’re working with others in the network to facilitate housing associations to adopt enhanced sustainability, quality, health and performance standards for new housing developments. As with the GHA Vanguard Network, this will be achieved through sharing best practice, creation of new resources and guidance, and conducting original research and demonstration projects.
We had our A+ (stable) rating from Standard and Poor's reaffirmed, which recognises our strong fundamentals and experienced management team, together with our robust governance framework as evidenced in the maintenance of our G1 governance and V1 viability ratings by the Regulator of Social Housing.
Climate change impact, including environmental management, energy performance of our stock and Aster Solarnext