Housing association Aster Group has pledged to invest at least £270m in maintenance and upgrades across its existing portfolio of 32,000 homes over the next five years, as it announced results for the last financial year.
The Group, which also aims to invest £260m in delivering over 1,100 new homes by April 2022, saw turnover increase by 4.6% to £224.4m in the year to the end of March 2021. Pre-tax profit for the period was £45.5m (2020: £59.8m).
During the same period Aster built nearly 1,000 new homes, despite the hiatus in construction work during the first UK-wide lockdown implemented in March 2020. Of 928 homes completed in 2020/21, 478 were for social or affordable rent, 339 were for shared ownership and 111 were for open market sale.
Aster, which operates in the south of England, was one of the first housing associations in the UK to price a sustainable bond in January 2021, raising £200m with a further £50m retained. In June, it announced plans for its second merger in two years, with London-based Central & Cecil Housing Trust, subject to final business case approval later this year.
Bjorn Howard, Aster Group chief executive, said: “Our ability to continue delivering safe, reliable services to our 90,000 customers and build nearly 1,000 new affordable homes, despite challenges on a scale our sector has never seen before, is testament to the dedication and passion of our people. I’m immensely proud of their efforts over the past year and the platform they have helped us to sustain, to further improve our offering to customers.
“The pandemic has demonstrated just how crucial our people are to delivering for our customers. This is why evolving our offer to employees – through technology and creating workspaces that better suit their needs – is a priority for us over the coming year.”
“We are focused on continuing to support our communities as Britain recovers from the pandemic. We’ve committed to one of our most significant phases of investment in improving our existing housing and ramping up delivery of safe, affordable homes for those who will need them most.
Aster, which has an A+ (stable) rating from Standard & Poor’s and G1 and V1 governance ratings from the Regulator of Social Housing, is partway through a £2bn programme building more than 10,000 homes over seven years.
Having completed a merger with Dorset-based East Boro Housing Trust (EBHT) in 2020, the Group now manages over 32,000 homes across southern England, servicing 93,000 customers.