The Board of Impact Housing Association has backed partnership proposals for the Cumbria-based landlord to join The Riverside Group.
Shareholders, who will have the final say, have been updated and a six-week consultation with tenants and leaseholders has now begun.
A series of drop-in events will be taking place across the county so that Impact customers can find out more. They have also been sent a letter and ‘Partnership Pledge’ booklet outlining the proposals.
The pledge explains why Impact needed to look for a partner and highlights the financial and governance support on offer from Riverside. This includes confirmation that:
- Impact services would continue to be delivered from local offices across Cumbria
- Riverside would provide financial support including up to £25million for home repairs along with adaptations for disabled tenants
- Impact’s social enterprises/community projects, such as Impact Furniture Services and The Oval Centre at Salterbeck, Workington, would be protected for a minimum of 3 years
- Development of 50-60 new affordable homes across Cumbria and two extra care schemes
- Riverside would maintain opportunities for tenants to be involved in influencing the services they receive
- There would be no compulsory staff redundancies for at least 3 years and no changes to the way rents and service charges are set
The pledge also outlines that Impact would initially become a subsidiary of Riverside, with a review to look at further integration to develop improved services and more homes in Cumbria.
Mark Costello, Chair of Impact’s Board, said “We are excited about sharing the Partnership Pledge with our tenants, leaseholders, shareholders and now the wider community. Whilst we acknowledge that we would lose some independence, the huge benefits of Riverside’s support far outweigh this and these are clearly set out in the pledge.
“We have already consulted with our tenant groups in Workington and Carlisle, and the response has been very good. They understand that, on our own, Impact would not be able to make the significant investment needed for home improvements or to keep local services running.
“Repairs and maintenance of homes was one of the key concerns put forward by tenants when first consulted about partnership selection criteria, so the pledge to fund up to £25 million on home improvements will make a massive difference to our tenants in the first three years.
“On our own we could not also guarantee the future of The Oval or the Impact Furniture Service and we know how important these local services are to our tenants. The Riverside bid will enable these services to continue for at least three years and we will look to grow and develop them.
“We have been working closely with the Riverside team for many weeks and we have seen a very supportive and collaborative approach throughout. This has further reassured our Board that a partnership with Riverside is in the best interest of our tenants.”
Carol Matthews, Riverside’s Group Chief Executive, added: “We put a great deal of effort into considering the best way to move the partnership forward and believe that Impact working as a subsidiary is the right way. It allows us to work collaboratively at a pace that works for both organisations. Based on our previous experience, we believe this approach will create a better result for us all.”
“We knew there were many synergies with Impact and were excited by the social enterprises and opportunities for all our tenants to make better use of services like the Oval. This represents just one example of how together, we can be more effective and efficient, and we are enthusiastic about the future.”
The consultation process lasts for 6 weeks and the deadline for feedback is 4th May. A ballot of tenants is not required for the partnership to go ahead but all responses will be carefully considered before shareholders are asked to approve the partnership at Impact’s AGM in June.
To make the consultation as accessible as possible, a series of drop-in sessions in Kendal, Carlisle, Penrith and Workington are taking place so that people can ask questions, watch a video explaining more detail, and pick up fact-sheets. For those not able to attend, the information will also be available on the Impact website, along with a video about the partnership, a dedicated support phone number and email address.
Drop – in dates (Time: 4-6.30pm)
Thursday 5th April: South Lakes Foyer, Kendal
Monday 9th April: The Oval Centre, Workington
Tuesday 10th April: Eden Rural Foyer, Penrith
Thursday 12th April: Centre 47, Carlisle
Up to date information about the Riverside bid can be found on the Impact Housing Association website www.impacthousing.org.uk