The 2022/2023 financial year saw significant growth for the organisation.
From the development and acquisition of new homes across the region, to the growth of the services it provides, Karbon’s approach to growth remains firmly linked with its overall mission, to provide customers and communities with the strong foundations they need to help them reach their full potential.
Paul Fiddaman, Chief Executive of the Karbon Homes Group, outlines Karbon’s approach to growth as an organisation, highlighting some of its most recent success stories and their growth plans for the future.
“One of the key enablers of Karbon’s business strategy is growth. In these challenging economic times, with rising inflation and the growing cost of living, creating efficiencies and developing stronger revenue streams to bring additional financial capacity into the organisation has never been more important.
When it comes to growth, we don’t take decisions around new opportunities lightly. It’s not just about getting bigger for the sake of it, that doesn’t really do anything for us as an organisation. What we’re really interested in are opportunities that will enable us to deliver greater economies of scale or to have a more concentrated base from which to deliver more locally focussed services.
Over the last 12 months we’ve focused on exploring opportunities that will either consolidate on our existing geographical footprint, or that will help us grow incrementally into adjoining areas, where there are good opportunities for us and where we can add value.
Growth through 2022/2023
Despite a challenging environment, with rising inflation, contractor uncertainties and difficulties in the supply chain, we’ve continued to grow through the development of hundreds of new homes.
In 22/23 we invested just over £95m in our development programme. That has provided many of our communities across the North East and Yorkshire that are lacking enough good quality, affordable housing, with housing options that meet the needs of a diverse range of residents, at varying stages of life.
Our achievements over the last year, as well as our ambitious plans to deliver 4,000 new homes by 2028, have been boosted by our Strategic Partnership with Homes England, which will support us with the delivery of 2,200 mixed tenure homes, just over half of our target.
The number of homes we own and manage has also grown through a number of successful mergers and acquisitions.
Last December we welcomed 54North Homes to the Karbon Group, a 3,000 home organisation formed through a merger between Leeds & Yorkshire Housing Association and existing subsidiary York Housing Association.
We recognised that the formation of 54North would strengthen our presence in Yorkshire and enable us to have an even greater positive impact on customers and communities there.
It’s been fantastic to work with 54North’s Managing Director Mark Pearson and his team and I’m proud of what we’ve already achieved, from increased investment in homes and services and development of many new homes in the Yorkshire area, to improved customer satisfaction levels.
More recently, we also completed a transfer of 439 homes from South Tyneside Housing Ventures Trust. Again, this transfer has strengthened our presence in South Tyneside, where we already own and manage more than 1,200 homes, and has enabled us to provide services to even more customers and generate greater capacity to invest in their homes.
The last financial year also saw us grow the cost-sharing services and support we provide to other not-for-profit organisations and housing associations.
Through our cost sharing vehicle (CSV), Karbon Solutions Ltd, we deliver a range of services to over 9,000 homes, owned and managed by other tax-exempt organisations. Over the last year we’ve further expanded the service and 4 new partners based in our geography have joined Karbon Solutions Ltd, receiving a range of tenancy and property management services.
Through the CSV, partners benefit from the cost sharing exemption on services by making VAT savings on labour and their residents benefit from a first-rate service and experience. Both new and more established Karbon Solutions partners have reported increases in customer satisfaction since they joined the CSV.
The CSV also brings a number of benefits to Karbon operationally, enabling us to increase resource within the areas we work which helps improve the services we provide our customers.
The collaboration element has also been beneficial with the CSV creating an informal network of likeminded partners who share knowledge, experience and expertise.
Looking forward to the year ahead and beyond
Over the coming year and beyond, we will continue to innovate and explore new growth opportunities which will not only build our strength, capacity and capabilities as an organisation, but will build on the services and support we offer, to help provide our customers and communities with a strong foundation for life.
We won’t pursue every opportunity and we’ll say no to growth that doesn’t add value to our business or help strengthen our position, to do more of what we care about.
As the organisation continues to grow, it’s important to us that we remain in the best position possible to provide customers with an excellent experience and an important element of that is staying local, having a strong connection with the communities in which we work and a clear understanding of both the challenges and opportunities that they face.
To ensure this, we’re developing a new customer approach, which will see smaller patches for our housing management colleagues. This will enable them to be more visible and available to customers, which in turn will help them build stronger relationships with them and ensure they have access to any support they may need.