Island Homes to be amalgamated in bid to improve performance
Calls for Shapps to stop One Housing Group merger
Tenants and a cross-party group of politicians have called on the housing minister to prevent a housing association from merging with its parent company.
One Housing Group plans to remove the board of subsidiary Island Homes, which owns nearly 2,000 homes on the Isle of Dogs in east London, and bring it under the control of its own board.
The move has infuriated tenants’ groups which claim it is part of a long-running attempt by OHG to reduce resident involvement in the association.
A document drawn up by the council in 2005, ahead of a stock transfer ballot, promised that the homes would be owned and run by a ‘board on which residents will be in the majority’. The document promised a 15-member board of which eight will be elected residents.
Tower Hamlets Council’s cabinet last month gave the go-ahead for the council’s legal agreement with Island Homes to be transferred to OHG, pending approval from Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman. The council has no powers to prevent the merger.
OHG, which was formed as a merger of Island Homes’ parent Toynbee Housing Association and Community Housing, in April 2008 removed the board and replaced it with a slimmed down board with no elected residents on it.
OHG said this was to address poor performance at Island Homes, which had a zero star Audit Commission inspection result in December 2008 - but tenants say this was the result of problems with Toynbee before Island Homes was set up.
OHG is now fully integrating Island Homes into the group.
A letter to Grant Shapps, copied to the Homes and Communities Agency, dated 25 July, from three tenants’ and residents’ associations says: ‘OHG has, in effect stolen the right of Island Homes to govern themselves… We ask you to intervene and suspend the merger process.’
Peter Golds, Conservative leader in the borough of Tower Hamlets, has also written to Mr Shapps calling for the Communities and Local Government department and the HCA to investigate the move, as has Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick.
A One Housing Group spokesperson said the move has been approved by the HCA and will mean £250,000 of annual savings.