Riverside and One Housing Group

Riverside and One Housing are proposing to come together to create a long-term partnership. Find out what we are proposing and what this means for you.

Formal consultation

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As a customer of The Riverside Group you will have been contacted directly either by email or in writing inviting you to take part in the consultation process, the information contained in that correspondence can be found in this proposals booklet or below for reference.

What are we proposing to do?

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Riverside and One Housing are proposing to come together to create a long-term partnership. We will do this in two steps:

Step one: One Housing Group would join The Riverside Group as a subsidiary. This means that, like now, One Housing Group would have its own Board running the association on a day to day basis. The difference is that One Housing would sit within a Group which is financially much stronger, agreeing its overall plans and direction with Riverside.

Step two: After the first two years of the partnership, we then plan to create a single housing association, with one Board and a consistent approach to delivering better local services and more cost effective support functions such as finance and IT.

Why do we think this is a good thing?

The Boards of Riverside and One Housing recognise that we can be better and stronger together. As charitable housing associations we have very similar values, and want to do the best for our customers and the local communities we serve. We work in different parts of the country, although we both have homes in London and the South East, where there is an opportunity to work together to deliver better and stronger services such as repairs. Crucially, by coming together we think we can create an organisation that can do even more for our customers and communities.

What would this mean for you?

It is only worth coming together if we can deliver real benefits for you, our customers. Put simply, we need to show that we can do more together than we can apart. We have put together a series of pledges or promises, which set out what we think we can achieve over the coming years. These are backed by a realistic financial plan.

What are our pledges?

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    We will deliver better services for customers, protecting rents and tenancy rights.



    We will work with engaged customers to review local services and jointly develop a “Customer Offer” in the first year of the partnership – a set of common agreed standards shared between Riverside and One Housing which we will report against.

     
    From day one, we will give you more choice about where you live around the country, through access to internal transfers and mutual exchanges.


    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.

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    We will make sure there is a louder customer voice, with residents able to take part in our Boards and committees and better able to hold us to account.


    From the outset, we will provide improved opportunities for you to scrutinise and influence our services. We will agree the approach with engaged customers across both organisations, creating a strong ‘Customer Voice’ for the combined Group, as well as continuing to support existing local arrangements.

     We will ensure customers are able to influence decisions where it matters – both locally and nationally. Customers will have places on our Boards and customer facing committees, reflecting the current position.

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    We will invest nearly £1 billion in improving and repairing homes over the next 5 years, with a focus on fire and building safety, warmer homes and regeneration. We will also build more new affordable homes.


    We will invest over £900m to repair and improve your homes over the next five years. We have set aside over £200m in our financial plan to meet the cost of fire safety improvements for One Housing’s high buildings. We will continue to seek Government funding to help offset these costs, lobbying to minimise potential hardship for leaseholders.

    We have earmarked £250m to improve the energy efficiency of your homes, as part of our journey towards helping the UK achieve its national net zero carbon goals by 2050, more than doubling the investment in our separate plans. We will be able to start tackling this issue quickly, supporting you to reduce the use of fuel in your home.

    We will build around 1,300 new homes each year designed to meet the diverse needs of our communities; overall, the majority will be affordable homes for local people. This represents a 40% increase in the number we could deliver alone, helping to tackle the national housing crisis.

    Where we have made specific commitments to customers as part of ongoing regeneration schemes, we will make sure these are delivered.

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    We will improve care and support services for older people, those with complex needs and people who are homeless.


    We will improve our existing services, working together to ensure they meet the needs of our local partners and, where possible, can be sustained into the future.

    We will work with partners such as local authorities to develop new services, so that we can reach more people in need of our support, with a particular emphasis on older people, those who are homeless, and people facing mental health challenges.

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    We will improve the livelihoods of customers and build stronger communities, providing better opportunities by investing in employment support and money advice.


    We will invest an additional £2.5m each year to help build communities, by supporting initiatives which help people into work, manage their money as well as funding other local projects.


    This investment will be prioritised by a Charitable Foundation with customers on its board.

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    We will keep our promises and make sure you can hold us to account, publishing a report each year on how we are delivering these pledges.


    We will be transparent in the delivery of these pledges by providing an annual progress update to customers, sharing it more widely in our Annual Report to Customers.

The risks of forming a partnership and our solutions...

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Whilst we believe that coming together can bring huge benefits to customers, it is also important to be honest, and recognise that partnerships like this are complicated and bring risks. We have thought very carefully about this, and what we can do to make sure these risks do not present us with future problems.

Risk

How we can address the risk

The partnership becomes a distraction and stops us from delivering the commitments we have already made. We have made it clear to our teams that their main focus must remain on improving homes, services and communities in line with existing plans. A small team is working on the partnership, but for the majority of colleagues it is very much ‘business as usual’.
The partnership will result in too much change too quickly – we would be ‘biting off more than we can chew’. We are deliberately planning the partnership in two stages, with One Housing joining Riverside as a subsidiary at first, where very little will change in our approach to delivering services. This will give us time to plan and engage with customers on the next step, which is full integration where we will look at the way we deliver locally and how we organise our support services, getting the full benefits of our scale and resources.
As a larger organisation we will become too remote from our customers. We will make sure this does not happen. At first there will be no changes to local service delivery – other than improvements we had already planned – and we will focus on giving customers a greater opportunity to influence. In time we will look at the way we deliver services, especially in those areas where both organisations own homes. Customers will be involved in deciding how local services are run in the long-term.
A much bigger organisation with greater commitments would make us financially weaker. In fact the opposite is true. We have put together a long term financial plan for the combined Group which shows how strong we would be. This includes the money needed to deliver the pledges set out in this booklet. We have also tested our plan to look at the impact of things that could throw us off course – such as increasing costs, or a major economic crash. This shows just how robust our plans are.
The partnership could become uneven with a risk that increased development will see homes sold in the South to pay for building in the North. The whole point of the partnership is to create an organisation that will work nationally, with a balance of homes and services across the country and offices in both London and Liverpool. The Board’s job will be to ensure that our plans and investment benefit all of our communities, with more effective customer involvement providing greater accountability for the decisions we make.

 

There are also risks if the proposals do not go ahead:

For One Housing Group, some very difficult choices would need to be made about priorities for investment. With fire safety being the number one priority, the opportunity to start to improve energy efficiency and do more regeneration would be very limited.

For Riverside, this would be a missed opportunity to improve the services it delivers, particularly for customers in London and the South East, where our combined scale would provide the chance to deliver better, more cost effective services. Riverside would also miss the opportunity to become more efficient, generating more to invest in improving homes and services.

About our two organisations in a nutshell...

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Charitable housing association, based in Liverpool but working across much of the country, with a subsidiary in Scotland. Charitable housing association, based in London. Working across the capital and South East.
Founded in 1928, but with roots going back to the late 19th century and the work of The Church Army. Grown over the years with nearly 60,000 homes. Long-history dating back to 1883. Has come together through previous mergers. Now owns and manages 17,000 homes.
Experience of stock transfers and mergers – track record of delivering promises. Formed from a network of mergers and stock transfers – continually evolving and improving our services alongside new partners.
Wide range of housing – social and affordable family housing and flats for rent, shared ownership, homes for outright sale. Wide range of housing – social and affordable family housing and flats for rent, shared ownership, homes for outright sale.
Significant and growing care and support services: focus on older people and homelessness. Significant and growing care and support services: emphasis on mental health, older people, homelessness.
Active in development and regeneration – building nearly 1,000 homes each year, with large scale regeneration experience in London and the North. Active in building new homes and estate regeneration in London.


What do we look like together?


One of country’s biggest housing association groups

+75,000 homes.

Strong and stable financial foundations
£600m annual turnover, £5bn assets.

Capacity to do more.
Operating nationally, but with a passion for local services.

Country’s largest housing association provider of supported housing.

A clear voice, able to influence government policy nationally and for London and the North.

What happens next?

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On September 6, we’ll begin a six week consultation with customers on the proposals set out above. We want to know what you think of them, so that we can report to the Boards of One Housing Group and Riverside, before they make a final decision about whether to form the partnership later in the year. They will carefully consider the views of customers, alongside feedback from other stakeholders such as our lenders and local authority partners. All customers will receive either a letter or an email inviting them to take part, along with a copy of the proposals set out above and details on how to respond. Each letter will be coded with a unique ID that is personal to you. Whichever way you choose to respond, your response will go to BMG, our survey partner, and will be completely confidential. BMG will summarise the results for us, but will not tell us the views of individual customers. Once the consultation has been completed we will share a summary of the results with you.

If you have questions, accessibility or translation requirements which are not met in the letter/email you receive inviting you to take part in the consultation, please call BMG on 0800 358 0337.