Clarion has revealed it plans to spend an extra £100m over the next five years on fire safety work – on top of the £50m it has already spent.
The UK’s largest social landlord invested £18m alone on fixing safety issues in high-rise properties in the year to the end of March 2020.
The 125,000-home group has 116 buildings with more than six storeys. However, the £100m figure covers fire safety work across the whole of its stock.
Work includes cladding remediation as well as passive fire safety work such as fire-door replacement and fire stopping.
Fire safety in the wake of Grenfell
Much like the rest of the social housing sector, Clarion is continuing to address fire safety across its estate, more than three years since the Grenfell Tower fire.
This latest announcement comes as the sector prepares for a new building-safety regime, after the government earlier this month published draft plans for a major overhaul to tackle post-Grenfell concerns.
Landlords are also trying to get a handle on the fallout from COVID-19, with rent arrears and voids rising due to an increasingly troubled economic landscape.
Clarion said its arrears had risen to 6.1% in the three months to 30 June, up from 5.2% at the end of March.
Clarion said it also rehoused 230 homeless households during the lockdown period, while occupancy rates remained at 98%.
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Building more homes
On the development of new homes, Clarion revealed that its pipeline remains at around 17,000 new homes. Since April, the group has completed 265 new homes, of which 95% are affordable.
Clarion has also begun work on 40 new homes, of which all are affordable, Clarion said.
During the year, Clarion completed 2,101 new homes, which represented a 69% increase on the prior year. Of these, Clarion said 86% were deemed affordable.
It spent £631m on building new homes, up from £541m the previous year. Of this, £535m was spent on affordable homes.
During the year, Clarion invested £102m in property repairs (up from £124m in 2019) and £188m in maintenance.
Mark Hattersley, chief financial officer at Clarion, called the full year a “strong and resilient performance”.
“These accounts detail results up to the end of March this year, and while so much has changed in the world since then, this highlights the strength of Clarion’s position as the pandemic hit,” he said.