Sustainable Finance Framework highlights Wheatley’s strong ESG performance

We are delighted to have been able to support Wheatley as the first Scottish Housing Association to launch a Sustainable Finance Framework – a crucial step towards them raising sustainable debt in the capital markets.

Wheatley Group

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Helping residents out of poverty and empowering communities

The UK’s largest builder of rented social housing from 2017-2020, Wheatley Group is also one of Scotland’s leading care providers and largest property management businesses, offering services aimed at “Making Homes and Lives Better” for over 210,000 customers across 19 local authority areas in Scotland.

Over the past five years more than 3,000 jobs, apprenticeships and training places have been created across the Group, helping to tackle poverty and disadvantage in their communities across Scotland.

To help tackle homelessness, Wheatley commits 60% of new lettings to homeless people and households.

The Group, which aims to develop 5,500 more affordable homes in Scotland over the next five years, is also working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of its existing 64,000 homes. While over 95% of their homes already reach EPC band D or above to meet current legislative requirements, additional investment is required to reflect the continuing transition to net-zero on energy-efficiency.

To date, Wheatley has delivered substantial investment and improvements to existing homes. The Group’s largest subsidiary, Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), completed a £1.3 billion investment programme, making 70,000 former council homes across Glasgow warmer, drier and more energy efficient with improvements such as over-cladding, new windows and doors, insulation, and modern heating systems.

Significant investment has also been made into zero or low-carbon heating solutions to help address fuel poverty. GHA commissioned the UK’s largest Air Source Heat Pump machine to feed district heating for over 300 homes in Hillpark Drive in Glasgow and installed 11 district heating schemes in Glasgow, covering more than 3,600 homes.

Sustainable Finance Framework reflects commitment to sustainability

To reflect its commitment to sustainability and to be able to access sustainable finance in the future, Wheatley Group sought advice from NatWest on the development of a Sustainable Finance Framework.

In their role as sole ESG Structuring Advisor, the NatWest team led the design of the framework and worked closely with the second party opinion (SPO) provider, S&P, to provide a detailed SPO of Wheatley’s Framework, which was confirmed as aligned to both the Loan Market Association standards, and the ICMA Social Bond Principles, Green Bond Principles and Sustainability Bond Guidelines – which allows Wheatley to raise sustainable debt through a range of instruments.

Wheatley’s Framework focuses not just on affordable housing and green buildings, but on wider social purpose initiatives including education, employment and supporting vulnerable residents. The projects under these categories contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No 1 “No Poverty”, No 3 “Good Health and Wellbeing”, No 4 “Quality Education”, No 7 “Affordable and Clean Energy”, No 8 “Decent work and economic growth”, and No 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities”.

Investments bring tangible benefits to residents and environment

Dominic Brindley, Debt & Financing Solutions, NatWest, said: “The Social Housing sector has been very active in the Sustainable Finance markets in 2021, and we are thrilled to have been able to support Wheatley as the first Scottish Housing Association to launch a Sustainable Finance Framework – a crucial step towards raising sustainable debt in the capital markets. This project is another example of NatWest delivering on its purpose to champion UK enterprise and to help our customers, such as Wheatley, achieve what they want today, while ensuring sustainable growth for tomorrow.”

Dr Arthur Krebbers, Head of Sustainable Finance, Corporates at NatWest, stated: “We are delighted to have supported Wheatley in establishing its inaugural sustainable finance framework. The framework marks an important milestone for Wheatley’s sustainability journey and the Scottish sustainable finance market more broadly. It provides a transparent and robust avenue for investors to support Wheatley’s ESG projects and initiatives.”

Samantha Bett, Director of Treasury, Wheatley Group, said: “Wheatley is committed to creating ‘Greener Lives, Greener Homes’ across Scotland, and we’re delighted to launch the first Sustainable Finance Framework in Scotland’s social housing sector.

“The new framework will allow Wheatley to expand its funding base to help achieve our ambitious sustainability goals, and improve lives, communities and the environment for the better.”

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