Monday, 24 November 2014

Housing association to swap stock and switch focus

A south west housing association is to drastically reduce the number of areas it works in as part of an overhaul to save £1.2 million a year.

The Arcadia Housing Group, which consists of Knightstone Housing Association and commercial arm Arc Developments, is aiming to reduce the number of local authority areas KHA works in from 37 to 9. KHA is aiming to focus on the west of England and Somerset and is in talks with other housing associations about swapping stock.

It hopes to transfer its 650 homes in Wiltshire and Swindon to another association by April 2012 and hopes to transfer a further 700 homes in Dorset and Hampshire by April 2013. Most of these properties were developed by KHA in the 1990’s.

The association will instead pick up stock in the west of England and Somerset, where 70 per cent of its homes currently are.

KHA hopes the move will leave the organisation owning or managing 11,000 homes, the same as currently.

Nick Horne, chief executive of KHA, said: ‘This will enable us to be a big regional player but with a local focus.’

Mr Horne says the restructure, which will also see six offices close and 11 posts axed, will save £1.2 million a year to be reinvested in services.

The organisation aims to build 1,500 new homes over the next five years. It has 400 homes under construction, hopes to build 900 through the Homes & Communities Agency’s affordable homes programme and plans to build a further 200 by using its own funds.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Fred Carter

    The Knightstone website expands on the above by giving further information as follows:

    Chief Executive of Knightstone Housing Nick Horne said: “These are bold changes that will transform what we do, how we do it and where we do it. The government changes to housing policy, rents, tenures and welfare benefits as well as the current economic issues, mean major challenges for our residents and partners in the years ahead.

    “To achieve this we’re setting up a new Individual and Community Empowerment Service (ICE). “ICE will invest in neighbourhoods at a time when other organisations may have to reduce their spend on neighbourhood and community services. We want to make a real difference in our communities and invest more in supporting neighbourhoods so they’re places where people want to live and stay.

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  • The usual restrained commentary from Chris. You can maybe query the use of the word 'player' but might it not be a good thing for tenants if their landlord is not trying to look after properties over such a wide area? Benefit of the doubt on this one, I say.

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  • Chris

    Perhaps Riverside, Circle Anglia, Southern, to name a few would disagre with you David; but who are we to question the merits of the decision and plans of private companies.

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  • I think it would be a good idea for any KHA residents ( like myself) to join one of the many meetings where oppinions count, and i think that you would find that as far as "buying and selling" residents/tenants, if they are transfered to another H.A. then all thier rights, priveledges, etc, would remain exactly the same. thanks for reading this

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  • Chris

    Steve is right, and that was the point of my original post - tenants should be asked, and should take advantage of the opportunities for their choice to be heard.
    I stick by the view that tenants are not to be bought and sold like a commodity - even the Housing Minister for all his faults insist houses are homes and not commodities (although his actions have yet to meet his words).
    In this case, for instance, have the tenants been offered the opportunity to take over the groups of properties and form a Co-op, will the tenants get to nominate their preferred landlord and will the local authority be an option, will the tenants have the right to remain with the current landlord if they prefer?
    The Cex appears to be of the view that this is a done deal simply because it fits his business plan - but what do the people say? If Steve is in the majority then the Cex is Ok in his position as a player, otherwise, he is not.

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  • The issue of full and proper consultation with tenants is key to any swap deal, and should not be short circuited. The regulator has an important role to play ensuring that tenants views are taken into account. There has already been some backwards and forwards movements of associations and assets in the SW in recent years, and on occasions consultation has been little more than lip service. For tenants a change of landlord is as fundamental as it gets, so Knightsone should proceed with caution - if the business reasons are sufficiently persuasive they shouldn't have a problem getting tenants on side

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  • Chris

    Which regulator would that be Batman - One of the ones already dead or those awaiting execution?

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  • Debbie Davis

    The answer to your question Chris is No! As a resident of one of the Organisations mentioned there has been no offer put on the table and we were not consulted prior to the Associations making the decision to "Home Swap". The affected Residents were told there new landlord on Monday 22nd, the first anyone knew of our Org's intention to "Home Swap" was at a presentation on the 7th June, when Heavily Involved Residents and Staff were told that the homes swaps were going to take place and all six area offices were closing. It was made clear to us at the presentation that these "Swaps" are definately going ahead, when asked if Residents were against the move could they stop it happening, we were told No, they will go ahead as planned!

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