Building a new partnership
Building a new partnership
Why is Equity looking for a partner?
You may recall that we have written to customers on a number of occasions over the last few months, outlining our plans and explaining why we are looking for a proposed partner. Our Board now feel that it is the right time to pursue those plans and in May 2019, following an objective and robust selection process, we are pleased to announce Great Places Housing Group as our preferred partner.
By bringing together two like-minded companies, a partnership will enable greater capacity to build much needed affordable homes, whilst also strengthening and potentially expanding the range of services we are able to offer to you as our customer. It is important to point out that the new combined organisation will be called Great Places Housing Group and your landlord will become Great Places.
Who are Great Places?
Great Places Housing Group exists to improve the lives of the people living in their 19,000 homes across the North West and Yorkshire. Much more than just a landlord, Great Places provides a wide-range of services and promotes partnership working to create vibrant, sustainable communities.
One of the fastest growing housing associations in the north of England, Great Places’ growth is underpinned by a values-driven profit-for-purpose business model. In 2017/18 they invested over £33m in building new homes, with 304 new homes completed in the year and another 644 homes in progress on sites across the North West.
The Group, which is supported by approximately 600 colleagues across four regions, encompasses:
- Great Places Housing Association – providing general needs rented homes and tenancy services as well as accommodation and services that promote independence and wellbeing.
- Plumlife – an award-winning affordable home ownership company. Plumlife helps people to fulfil their home ownership dreams through Help to Buy schemes such as Shared Ownership as well as outright sale.
- Cube – developing quality new homes for market sale and private rent. To read more about Great Places visit their website – www.greatplaces.org.uk
Why choose Great Places?
A new partnership will improve the quality and breadth of services provided for both sets of customers; establish a market leading housing association specialising in Shared Ownership and market sales for the North West; build at least 11,000 new homes over the next 10 years to help tackle the housing crisis and improve efficiency in both organisations.
There are a number of reasons why Great Places stood out throughout the selection process, here are some of those reasons:
Natural geographical fit:
Both organisations operate across similar geographies, if you look at the map opposite you will be able to see just how many communities we have in common and where we don’t have shared communities one or either of us has some homes, helping to join up the communities across the region.
Improved quality and breadth of services for customers:
By coming together as a single organisation, we believe we will be able to offer customers a wider choice of higher quality services and be better placed to provide solutions and responses to meet the needs of our residents and partners.
The complementary geography of Great Places and Equity: offers opportunities to streamline services to be more efficient and more effective, as well as continuing to be locally responsive.
The combined organisation will have the resource and expertise to invest in the development of services such as:
- Increased digital opportunities – technology based services making it easier and more cost effective for customers to access services and will complement our digital by default approach.
- Tailored Services – through a combination of effective customer involvement and the use of data we will strengthen our customer insight to ensure we deliver services tailored to the needs of individuals and communities.
- Older People – the combined organisation will have a significant proportion of older tenants and we will seek to implement innovative solutions to supporting independence including the use of technology, tailored support and the effective design and investment in new and existing homes.
- Leaseholders – our intention is to be a national centre of excellence for Shared Ownership and leasehold management, ensuring our leaseholders receive a first class service.
Develop and build more homes:
Individually both organisations have strong development and growth portfolios but by pooling resources, together we will be able to build more new homes than either of our legacy organisations could achieve individually.
As a combined organisation it is anticipated that we will be able to build 11,000 new homes over the next 10 years – this will have a massive impact on the housing crisis across the North-West and the communities in which we both operate.
Our focus will continue to be on those communities that we currently serve across Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and beyond.
Invest in Communities:
Great Places and Equity each have a strong record of investment in their communities. This work has helped communities and individuals to manage their finances better, be more confident about re-entering employment and to be more active and healthier.
We believe that by pooling our skills and resources we can further strengthen our offer to our communities whilst being more efficient in the way those resources are deployed. We therefore propose to promote stronger communities through:
- Supporting people to manage their finances and debts.
- Training people to use technology and promoting access to digital services.
- Supporting people to be more involved in decisionmaking in their local communities.
- Promoting volunteering programmes.
- Working to reduce social isolation.
- Promoting training and employment initiatives.
- Acting as a signpost for people with entrepreneurial ambitions and support social enterprise.
- Encouraging people to be active and make healthy lifestyle choices
Complementary skills and experience in the housing sector:
Both Equity and Great Places have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the housing sector. Equity prides itself on being a housing organisation that builds large numbers of homes relevant to the size of our organisation. We also specialise in Shared Ownership properties, whilst also having an in-house estate agency – Equity Living within the Group.
Great Places also has an abundance of experience in house building, regeneration, neighbourhood management and placemaking – they have worked in areas like New Broughton, Salford for many years, creating fantastic communities through reinvestment and close partnership working with the local community.
What are the timescales involved with the partnership?
There are four key stages throughout this process and each one is just as important as the next. One of those stages is Customer Consultation and we need to ensure it is carried out in a fair and robust manner. Consultation lasts for six weeks and finishes on Friday 22 November (it commenced on 7 October).
The four keys stages to the process are:
Agreeing the terms (up to 1 October 2019) We have now agreed these terms and understand more about how our partnership will operate. Both Boards have signed off these proposals to enable us to move to the next stage - Due Diligence.
Due Diligence (October 2019 to December 2019) Due Diligence’ describes the detailed checks and information gathering that each party does before entering into a partnership, to understand how each business operates. Both Great Places and Equity will undertake ‘Due Diligence’ on each other and each Board will get a report on the legal and financial facts about their counterpart, highlighting any potential issues that might stand in the way of putting the intended partnership arrangements in place.
Customer Consultation (ongoing) The Regulator of Social Housing requires us to consult with customers before making big changes to management arrangements. You must be given the facts about the proposals for the new organisation, and have the opportunity to share views and ask questions in a fair, timely, appropriate and effective manner.
Integration and final approvals (December 2019 - April 2020) The New Year will see a lot of activity as we progress towards the launch of the new partnership and planning for day one to ensure everything goes smoothly.
We hope subject to satisfactory feedback from this customer consultation and the Due Diligence exercise to gain final Shareholder approval in January 2020. We will also need to have secured consent from all relevant funders. We are planning on Wednesday 1 April 2020 being our first working day as a combined partnership.
Why should I feedback my comments?
As with all types of consultation, your comments are important and help shape how things progress. As a customer of Equity Housing Group we want to make sure that your voice is heard throughout this partnership process.
Having read through this leaflet, we hope that all of your questions have been answered, however if you do still have any queries, please get in touch and we will endeavour to answer your question or query as soon as we possibly can. How can I have my say?
As we have already explained, your feedback about the proposed partnership is really important to us and will help formulate our final decision. We want to consult with as many customers as possible and this is why we want to offer you a number of ways to be able to feed back to us.
You can give us your feedback by:
- Completing the reply card (enclosed with this leaflet) with your comments and return it to us in the pre-paid envelope provided.
- Attend one of our drop-in sessions we are holding. These are being held at a number of venues throughout November:
|Wednesday 6 November||Clifford Court, Corbar Road, Stockport SK2 7BS||1.30pm – 3.30pm 4pm – 6pm|
|Tuesday 12 November||Weavers Court, 51 Unwin Street, Penistone, Sheffield S36 6EH||1.30pm – 3.30pm 4pm – 6pm|
|Thursday 21 November||Foxlair Court, Foxlair Road, Wythenshawe, M22 9RJ||1.30pm – 3.30pm 4pm – 6pm|
- Complete the form below, giving us your views and feedback.
- Email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to: Equity Housing Group, Armitt House, Monmouth Road, Cheadle Hulme, SK8 7EF
Frequently Asked Questions:
To help answer some of the questions you may have, please download our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) document.