Housing Association figures join Board of ESG Reporting Group


A new group overseeing environmental, social and governance (ESG) finance reporting in the social housing sector has appointed its first board members.

LONDON, England, July 07, 2021 (HOUSING DIGITAL) -- A new group overseeing ESG finance reporting in the social housing sector has appointed its first eight board members. Eight leading figures from the housing and finance sectors will join the Sustainability for Housing board to oversee the roll-out of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS), which was created last year.

The Board, chaired by outgoing Peabody chief executive Brendan Sarsfield (pictured), will bring experience from the investment industry, housing and care sectors and the civil service.

The newly appointed board members are as follows:

  • David Cleary, managing director, head of housing, corporate and institutional coverage at Lloyds Commercial Banking
  • Sarah Forster, chief executive of The Good Economy
  • Robert Hall, associate director of ESG, impact and innovation at Federated Hermes
  • Martin Hurst, former senior civil servant, working on environmental issues, and experienced housing association non-executive director
  • Craig MacDonald, global head of fixed income at Aberdeen Standard Investments
  • Julie McDowell, ESG and responsible investment specialist; and chair of Blackwood Homes and Care
  • Fayann Simpson, board member and resident, L&Q
  • Sarah Smith, chief financial officer, Optivo

The SRS was created following a white paper put forward by The Good Economy and a group of housing associations.

It is a voluntary reporting framework which covers 48 criteria across ESG considerations, such as zero-carbon targets, affordability and safety standards.

More than 100 housing providers, funders and sector bodies have signed up to the standard as adopters and endorsers.

Mr Sarsfield said: 

"The standard is unique as the only ESG standard in the UK to be led by the sector, for the sector, and agreed in a truly collaborative way with those that fund the sector.

"Its reach extends beyond the housing sector, and even the UK, with interest already from Europe, America and Australia. We already have nearly 100 UK adopters and endorsers of the standard and are growing rapidly."

About The SRS

The Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) was launched in November 2020 by the ESG Social Housing Working Group - a unique collaboration of 18 housing associations, banks, investors, service providers and impact investing organisations.

The working group was set up in 2019 in response to concerns ESG investment in social housing was being inhibited by the absence of a common reporting standard. As with many other sectors across the economy, there had been a multitude of ESG reporting frameworks, resulting in reporting that lacked transparency and was prone to inconsistency. Moreover, it was apparent many housing providers were being asked to report on ESG criteria not relevant to the social housing sector.