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Formal consultation opens Monday 6 September 2021
On 24 June, Riverside Group and One Housing Group announced plans to form a new partnership. The aim is to create a better, stronger organisation so that together, we can do more for you; our customers, and the communities we serve.
At the start of August, we wrote to you providing further information and announcing we’d hold a consultation to seek your views. That consultation begins on Monday 6 September and will run for six weeks, closing on Sunday 17 October. Further information can be found here.
A complementary partnershipBack to top
The Riverside Group and One Housing have announced plans to form a complementary partnership. This follows a shared recognition that we are better and stronger together; and that when we combine we will be able to do more for our customers and the communities we serve.
Initially there will be limited impact to our services resulting from this proposal, and no change to rents, service charges or tenancy terms.
As the plan to bring our two organisations together develops, we will aim to deliver better customer services, accelerated investment in our housing stock and improved tenancy sustainment services.
The two Boards agreed an outline business case for the partnership in June, paving the way for more detailed discussions and the creation of a comprehensive blueprint for how the relationship could work.
A formal consultation process will take place with customers as the plans are developed and we will work with our involved residents to agree the details. We will also continue to discuss the proposals with colleagues and other stakeholders. Our aim is that One Housing Group joins Riverside by the end of the year. Our plans will progress following the approval of the shareholders of both organisations.
Terrie Alafat CBE, The Riverside’s Group Chair, said: “One Housing and Riverside are both major providers of social and affordable housing, with homes across the country. We have a lot in common, based on our strong values and a clear social purpose. This includes a deep commitment to delivering vital care and support services for elderly customers, those who are at risk of becoming homeless and people who are mentally ill or have learning disabilities.
“There has never been a greater need for our homes and services, but we operate in an environment which is getting tougher, as the challenges faced by our customers intensify and standards rise – especially those relating to building safety and carbon reduction. This has led us to discuss how together, through a bigger and stronger Group we can deliver more for residents, customers and communities.”
Caroline Corby, Chair of One Housing Group, added: “Delivering more is all about having the capacity to build more quality homes, deliver estate regeneration, be an excellent landlord, provide excellent care and support services and extend home ownership opportunities. That is our shared ambition and something we believe we can achieve by pooling our strengths and resources in this way.
“Our geography is complementary and there is a real opportunity for us to become a sector-leading national organisation with the scale and span enabling us to influence even more, both nationally and regionally, whilst maintaining a focus on delivering great services locally.”
The proposal would see One Housing initially joining The Riverside Group as a subsidiary.
A strong customer voiceBack to top
We will consult with both One Housing and Riverside Group customers about these proposals before a final decision is made, clearly setting out the implications of the partnership. We are also speaking with all relevant bodies who need to approve this type of merger and making sure they agree it is in the best interests of our customers.
We are holding a formal consultation beginning on 6 September and running for six weeks to seek your views and we would encourage you to get involved. We will write to you on September 6 to provide you with consultation information and a form.
To help ensure both One Housing and Riverside Group customers can have a say in the development of the consultation for the partnership, we are setting up a Joint Customer Advisory Panel. The Panel will be chaired by two independent representatives from our customer groups:
- Vic Andrews – The Riverside Group
Vic has been a Riverside Group customer for eight years and an involved customer since 2015. He is currently the Chair of the Riverside Customer Voice Executive (RCVE) and has a background in the Public Road Transport Industry with more than 40 years’ experience representing others.
- Matthew Waterfall – One Housing
Matthew is resident from Forest Gate, Newham in East London. He has been a One Housing resident for the past four years and chairs his local tenants and residents association. Matthew works as a trade union official within the education sector.
The other panel members are:
- Riverside – Olwen Lintott, Margi Kelly, Rich Nichols, Paula Simpson, Bryan Chiyama
- One Housing – Julian Watkins, Paul Sammut, Glen Garrett, Maryla Abraham, Andrew Rosewarne
Frequently Asked QuestionsBack to top
Why do we want to create a long-term partnership with Riverside/ One Housing?
Riverside and One Housing have a shared recognition that we are better and stronger together; when we combine we will be able to do more for our customers and the communities we serve.
Together we will have the scale to do more, with particular expertise in providing care and support for some of the UK’s most vulnerable groups. We will have a portfolio of properties stretching across the UK and a focus on delivering great services locally. The partnership is also designed to create a joint organisation with the scale to offer more opportunities to our customers and staff, whilst being better able to adapt to the pressures facing the housing sector.
Will this partnership mean additional money can be spent on pressing challenges?
The partnership would allow us to accelerate our investment programme, especially for decarbonisation; spend more on supporting customers with things like money advice and employment; and build more homes.
Why is this being proposed now?
This partnership is one both organisations have actively chosen because it will allow us to pool resources and expertise, whilst doing more for our residents and the people who rely on our services at a time when the sector faces huge challenges.
Coming into the partnership, One Housing is a robust organisation with strong liquidity and assets in some of the most expensive areas in the country. However, with the twin challenges of building safety and achieving zero carbon, on its own it would have some difficult trade-offs to make, with limited resources for building new homes and estate regeneration. It is looking for a partner with financial strength, so that together we can become more efficient and effective, investing even more in delivering better services and building more homes.
We think our geographies are complementary. Though most of One Housing’s homes are in London and the majority of Riverside’s are in the North and Midlands, we both also have a significant proportion of homes in the South East giving us the opportunity to provide more efficient and effective services in this part of the country – especially for repair and maintenance services. The new partnership puts us in a position to be a Group with a national portfolio.
When will this proposed merger actually happen?
If we are satisfied that at the end of the exploration and information gathering stage, we aim to complete the merger by the end of the year, following customer consultation and further analysis. Already a lot of work has been completed and both Boards have approved an outline business case and financial plan.
The first two years of our partnership would be a period where One Housing would become a subsidiary of The Riverside Group, with a view to further integration as a single entity once our systems and processes are aligned.
Customer and Services
What does this mean for customers?
Doing more for customers is at the core of how our partnership will work.
Initially there will be limited impact to customer facing services resulting from this proposal and no change to rents, service charges or tenancy terms. As the partnership develops we will deliver better customer services, accelerated investment in our housing stock and improved tenancy sustainment services.
One aim for the new partnership will be to permanently give customers a stronger voice and more chances to engage with us – there will be a place for customers on our Group Board and our customer facing Committees, and a strengthened forum for customer engagement at Group level. Transparency and accountability are central to the partnership’s shared values.
We have now agreed a consultation process and materials with our Joint Customer Advisory Panel, who has independent support from TPAS.
How will you ensure that services are delivered to our customers and local services do not suffer?
We will still provide the same level of service to our customers and ensure that resources to provide excellent services are maintained. Over time, and working together, our aim is to improve services for customers and ensure they are engaged in the decisions we make. For example, we will still have local housing teams, support teams and maintenance teams to provide those services to our customers.
Will we consult with customers? What happens if they say no?
Yes, we will consult with both One Housing and Riverside customers, commencing on 6 September 2021, about these proposals before a final decision is made, setting out the implications of the partnership. There will not be a ballot of tenants, but views will be taken into consideration by both Boards before a final decision is made.
Will this lead to the sale of properties?
The partnership itself won’t lead to the sale of properties, although both organisations may sell properties from time to time as part of our asset management strategies. In fact, the partnership will increase our development capacity in the long term, enabling us to build up to 40% more homes than currently planned.
Can we still buy our house?
If you have the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire your home, this will still stand, the partnership will not change this agreement. If you would like further details on purchasing your house please contact Riverside or One Housing directly, whichever is your current landlord.
Will this lead to a pause in our development work?
No, all existing development plans will be unaffected by these proposals and any investment plans will continue.
Will this lead to an increase in rents or tenancy rights?
We will not increase your rent as a direct result of creating the partnership and any future rent increases will be in line with Government guidelines. There will be no impact on your rights as a tenant or leaseholder.
Will this lead to a cut in care and support services?
Absolutely not. In fact, it’s our shared focus on care and support services that helped bring Riverside and One Housing together. In the short term, whilst care and support services may change as contracts are reviewed, the partnership will mean few immediate changes to front-line services, and no change in landlord.
Longer term, the partnership should put us in a stronger position to listen to customer needs, sustain our current services, and put in place enhanced services at a time of intense pressure in the sector.
Joint Customer Advisory Panel
Who are the representatives?
The representatives are listed below:
Riverside: Vic Andrews (co-chair), OIwyn Lintott, Margi Kelly, Rich Nichols, Paula Simpson, Bryan Chiyama
One Housing: Matthew Waterfall (co-chair), Julian Watkins, Paul Sammut, Glen Garrett, Maryla Abraham, Andrew Rosewarne
All are customers and represent a variety of tenure types. Further details are on our websites.
All queries raised by customers via these inboxes are shared with the panel representatives.
If you wish to speak to/correspond with an individual member of the panel directly in another form, you can contact the Independent Tenant Advisor at TPAS on their freephone number: 0800 731 1619 or you can email them on: [email protected].
Who are they accountable to and are they selected or elected?
The opportunity to become part of the Panel was offered to Riverside Customer Voice members via the Riverside Customer Voice Executive soon after the partnership proposal was announced as well as the One Housing Group Engaged customers. The Panel members are accountable to the respective customer and resident voice groups and, by extension, to customers.
What will this mean for staff?
Initially One Housing will join Riverside as a subsidiary and we anticipate there will be little or no impact on front-line staff. The new Group will retain offices in current locations, including the One Housing London head office.
An early focus of our partnership will be on integrating key corporate and support services. Over time we will explore further operational integration, including the co-location of offices where this makes sense and allows us to build a better service.
We will consult with colleagues about significant changes and listen to what they tell us. The new partnership will give our people a real chance to grow and develop as part of one of the country’s biggest, most progressive housing association groups, with the training and progression opportunities this will bring.