Report and Consilidated Financial Statements
"2017 was a difficult year for the social housing world following the terrible Grenfell Tower fire and our thoughts go out to everyone affected by it. Thankfully, West Kent does not have any similar tower blocks and we were able to focus on our usual activities as a provider of more than 7000 homes.
In our 2016 financial statements I spoke about our new extra care homes for older people across Kent. We have now completed a full year of managing these homes. Performance has been excellent with very high occupancy rates, hitting 100% during the year. The relationship with the facilities management provider Galliford Try has worked well and shows what can be achieved being in true partnership. We have been watching carefully the debate on the future of supported housing, as we hope to build more extra care and supported schemes, but as ever how it is funded, not just at the start, but throughout the life of the scheme is vital in approving such an investment. Despite the uncertainty we have not stopped investing in this tenure; completing the remodel of an eight-bed shared house into eight self-contained flats.
The housing shortage across the country continues to be high on the political agenda. The government has responded positively, giving us certainty over rent increases until 2024 and removing the potential for local housing allowance being a limit to housing payments through benefits, so we are in a good place to deliver more homes that are greatly needed. West Kent is a financially strong organisation and we have delivered financial results ahead of budget. Our entire surplus is re-invested in maintaining our existing homes and building new ones and we have increased our development ambitions to achieve more than 200 new homes per year over the next few years. To support this we successfully secured additional borrowing of £54m in April 2017 to fund the next phases of our building programme.
Demand for our homes through local authority housing register rules remains high, especially for one and two bedroom properties. We let 509 homes in 2017, housing 1,097 people, of which 110 were new builds. The average time taken to bring a property from becoming vacant to being re-let was 25 days against the target of 21 days.
On our website there is our residents annual report, which illustrates all the great work we have achieved in the year. There is a separate report on the impact of our wide reaching and excellent community activities, working with partners, residents and volunteers across the county."
Colin Wilby, Chair of the Board