Riverside and One Housing Groups in partnership talks

23 Jun 2021

Riverside and One Housing have been exploring the benefits of coming together as part of a single Group.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 footprint and a stronger voice in the UK-wide discussion around affordable housing.

Together, the partnership would have an exceptionally solid financial foundation, with a huge annual turnover and portfolio of assets.

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 front-line 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. As we develop our proposals, we will seek to agree a consultation process and materials with our engaged customers, who will be offered independent support.

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 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.

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.

Will this lead to a pause in our development work?

No, all existing development plans will be unaffected by these proposals.

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 resident needs, sustain our current services, and put in place enhanced services at a time of intense pressure in the 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.

Will we consult with customers? What happens if they say no?

Yes, we will consult with both One Housing and Riverside customers 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. We will seek to agree a consultation process and materials with our engaged customers, who will be offered independent support.

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 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.

Will the partnership change the commitments made to customers in relation to ongoing regeneration or development schemes?

No, the partnership proposals will not change the commitments we have made to customers and stakeholders as part of ongoing development and regeneration schemes. It also will not impact the promises we have made in our offer documents.