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The financial case for merger was compelling.

As separate organisations, both Housing Plus Group and Stafford and Rural Homes were financially robust, delivering performances significantly above average in the sector.

Together, we recognised that a new, combined business would have greater financial strength, enabling it to do more than either landlord could achieve alone.

As well as achieving savings through refinancing opportunities, our merger generated access to additional investment capacity.

That improved financial position meant that we could make ambitious commitments to build more homes, provide more care, create more apprenticeships and offer more employment opportunities for local people.

And as you can see from this report, we have already begun to fulfil those commitments.

As we prepared for merger in 2019, we also recognised that the larger organisation would have enhanced resilience to absorb future shocks. Very quickly, that resilience would face an unprecedented test in the pandemic. From a position of financial strength, the new Group has successfully protected front-line services and continued to be a good, responsible employer.