Derwent Living has been thinking in new ways and overcoming challenges for nearly 50 years. Here are just a few examples:
We were the first provider to bring direct institutional investment to the UK affordable housing sector. A £45 million deal with Aviva in 2011 saw pension funding used to finance the procurement of over 1,000 affordable homes.
In all, 40% of Derwent Living’s activity is commercial. Only 20% of our assets are publicly backed. It is through our commercial ventures that we made £1.6 million surplus this year and an expected £1.8 million in 2013. We use some of this profit to fund our development programme – 650 homes between 2012 and 2014.
The National Housing Federation recently calculated that for every £1 invested in building affordable housing, an additional £1.41 is generated in the UK economy.
This year alone, Derwent Living has a development programme of 220 homes, the bulk of which are being delivered without public subsidy. Aside from the £26million involved in all aspects of the build, these developments directly generate an additional £13million for the regional economy and support 186 jobs. Indirectly they generate another £31million and support 465 jobs in the UK as a whole.
Not only is Derwent Living innovative, but we are diverse. We operate our core housing across 44 English local authority areas, but UK wide for students and facilities management.
A commercial approach
With 15 years experience in the sector and over 10,000 bedspaces, Derwent Students is now the 5th largest UK student accommodation provider. And we have ambitious plans for growth. Through Uliving, a joint venture with Bouygues Development set up in 2009, we have recently been appointed to provide 1,415 units at the University of Essex and 3,000 at the University of Hertfordshire.
Derwent FM, a facilities management subsidiary set up in 2010 has been a run away success too. Set up with Martin Corbett, who has over 20 years FM experience, the company now provides services for sectors including local government departments, health, education as well as residential and commercial markets.
Generating £600,000 profit for Derwent Living in its third year, Derwent FM has also created over 300 new jobs since it was established.
Evolving our service
We are continually improving our digital offering – ther have been more than 2,000 downloads of our smartphone app, and all online services are fully optimised for all mobile devices. We built an online customer portal in-house allowing customers to check their account, complete transactions and join in with consultations within the comfort of their homes.
We increasingly use new media to communicate – we invest in social media and as result have almost 2,500 followers and fans, plus 2,500 customers gave us feedback via text last year.
That’s just the half of it. Our award winning resident scrutiny team challenge us to continue to do more for less and to do it better. Our team of service spot checkers ensure that we get honest feedback that is representative of all customers and this is how we are achieving high levels of overall customer satisfaction.