North East housing association, Bernicia, has announced it will invest £210 million into homes, estates and communities over the next four years as part of ambitious plans to support tenants when they need it most.

The investment will focus on building at least 600 new homes across the region, delivering major works to improve existing homes and neighbourhoods, and helping people into work.

Tenants’ views have helped shape Bernicia’s new corporate strategy which outlines how it will deliver exceptional services, sharply focused on customers’ needs at a time of major financial pressures on households.

The housing association owns and manages 14,000 properties, employs over 550 staff across the North East and has an annual turnover of £90 million.

Over the next four years, Bernicia will:

  • Invest £85m in new housing, building at least 600 new homes
  • Deliver £63m of major maintenance works to improve existing homes and estates
  • Spend £61m on day-to-day and cyclical repairs programmes
  • Ensure well over 90% of its homes meet energy efficiency rating SAP C or above, five years ahead of Government target
  • Pledge an additional £2m to help local people into employment, creating a new employability team to work with regional businesses
  • Generate £15m of added social value for the region

Bernicia will commit additional resources to help tackle fuel poverty as households face a cost of living crisis. It will install more efficient heating systems into homes, fit extra insulation, photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps.

John Johnston, Bernicia Chief Executive, said: “Over the next four years, we will put our human and financial resources to work, using our skills to release more capacity to support our tenants, customers and communities at a time when arguably they need it most.

“The North East is where our tenants and communities live, where our financial strength has been generated, and where the company has always been based, and we want to use our strength to help it grow.

“We are pledging significant extra resources to support financial inclusion, building aspiration and increasing confidence, providing the training, skills and job opportunities people deserve.

“We are more than just a landlord. We are an anchor institution for communities and we will continue to work with partners to help deliver ambitious plans for the North East.”

Bernicia’s strategy aims to create £15 million of added social value, partly by channelling the profits of its commercial arms; Kingston, a block and estate management and landscaping specialist; and estate agent Living Spaces, back into supporting tenants and the communities they live in.

Bernicia’s new employability team will work with regional schools and colleges to deliver more apprenticeships and placements and will engage with employers to give young people the ‘work ready skills’ they need to launch their careers.

As well as its £210 million investment plan, Bernicia will continue to collaborate and work with a host of regional partners to help promote the potential of the North East, the place, its people, and its role in the Government’s national ‘Levelling Up’ agenda.