LiveWest is set to build around 7,000 affordable homes over the next five years as part of a £2bn investment in the local economy during the next 10 years.
The housing association delivered 701 affordable homes and 86 for open market across the South West during the last financial year despite construction being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the next five years, LiveWest will develop around 2,400 affordable homes in Devon, 1,750 in Somerset, 1,400 in Cornwall and 1,400 in the West of England.
As the largest housing provider in the South West, LiveWest has more than 38,000 homes across the region with more than 80,000 customers.
LiveWest remain on course to develop 1,100 homes for rent and shared ownership and 106 for outright sale during the current financial year.
LiveWest’s chief executive, Paul Crawford, said: “As we reflect on a year which has brought unprecedented challenges for our organisation, customers and the wider economy, we can be truly proud of how dynamic and resourceful we have been in responding positively to the rapidly changing environment.
“That said, we have had another year of strong progress and remain in good shape to continue our plans to build desperately needed affordable homes across the South West.
“Our financial figures provide the springboard for us to continue with our ambitious growth strategy where the focus of our development programme is very much on providing homes that people can afford to live in.
“Behind our financial and development figures is the story of how LiveWest has put social purpose, the quality of the homes we develop, health and safety, and the needs of our customers at the heart of everything we do.
“We are a not-for-profit organisation, so we use our surplus to reinvest in our homes and communities, and to build more affordable housing.
“The operating surplus we have recorded is already being reinvested into building much-needed affordable homes across the region.”
Crawford continued: “We are also keeping up momentum with the investment in our existing properties having spent £58m in maintaining and improving homes for our current customers.
“This will ensure that our homes remain great places to live, as well as protecting our investment for the future.
“Deepening our customer relationships is pivotal for LiveWest and are sustained efforts to meet our customers’ needs are highlighted with an 89% satisfaction rate.
“In view of last year’s challenges, we have understandably had to adapt with pace in how we work to ensure that we continue to invest in our existing homes and places, improve services for customers and keep building new genuinely affordable homes in these exceptionally challenging circumstances.”
LiveWest’s priority of providing support for its customer saw it make almost 20,000 welfare calls to the most vulnerable following the outbreak of COVID-19 in order to identify their needs and help them access appropriate community support from its colleagues and other organisations.
Recognising the financial difficulties some of its customers have faced, LiveWest increased its hardship grant funding by £600,000 which has seen a 700% rise in applications compared to previous years.
As a result, more than 1,500 grants have been issued as well as donations to customers and their wider communities to help with immediate issues, including £108,000 to groups and charities to tackle food poverty.
LiveWest also stepped in to help bridge the digital divide created by lockdown by donating more than 300 laptops to schools across the region.
Mr Crawford added: “The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the wellbeing of our customers.
“Our priority has been to ensure that our most vulnerable customers have remained safe and able to get the support they need.
“Our grants programme means we have been able to support those experiencing financial difficulties and we are also delighted to have helped schools get access to a much-needed IT equipment during lockdown.”
LiveWest annual report and financial statements highlight a £82m operating surplus which lays solid foundations for it to build more than 7,000 homes across the region in the next five years.
The organisation’s investment plans will sustain 7,000 jobs in the building and supply chain, protecting livelihoods and offering fresh opportunities.
LiveWest’s financial strength is further underlined after Moody’s Investors Service maintained its A2 stable credit rating, emphasising the quality of its financial base and management.
Moody’s Investors Service is a leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis and the A2 rating puts LiveWest among the top ratings for finance in the sector.
LiveWest is the one of the region’s largest employers with 1,425 staff, and currently has 48 apprentices working across the organisation.
Main image: Some of the new homes recently delivered by LiveWest
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