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In April 2016, we consulted with you about a proposed merger between our parent company Circle Anglia Limited (known as Circle Housing Group) and Affinity Sutton Group.
Following that consultation, in November 2016, Clarion Housing Group was formed. With over 125,000 homes, the Group is now the largest UK housing group, which enables us to make better use of our combined resources including improvement of our repairs services and investing more into improving your homes, neighbourhoods and communities.
We are now proposing to combine the housing associations Affinity Sutton Homes and Circle 33 (known as Circle Housing), to form a single organisation called Clarion Housing Association which will be a Charitable Housing Provider regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency. This proposal will not affect your tenancy terms nor the rent you pay. Our proposals are intended to simplify the organisation and to make it easier to deliver good services to all our residents.
In the past, Circle Housing Group was made up of nine housing associations. Over the last few months we have consulted with you and have brought together seven of these housing associations into Circle 33 (known as Circle Housing).
We are now proposing to bring together the two largest housing associations within our group. At this stage, Old Ford and Russet Homes will remain separate entities, but we hope to bring them into the simplified Group later this year following consultation with their residents.
By simplifying the number of housing associations in the Group we are better able to combine our services to offer a more efficient and consistently good service to all our residents across the country. The changes are designed to make us a better performing Group, but we will minimise the impact of the change on you. We believe there will be six key benefits:
Your views are very important to us, and before we decide on a final course of action, we are keen to hear feedback and answer your questions.
This consultation is open to residents of Circle Housing (known legally as Circle 33) only and not residents of Old Ford Housing Association who we will be consulting separately. If you are currently a resident of Russet Homes you have previously been consulted about joining Circle Housing. Although this hasn't concluded, we are still interested in hearing your views on Circle Housing joining Affinity Sutton Homes.
Wednesday 9th August 2017 marks the beginning of our formal six week consultation period with you to seek your views on this proposal. You can find further details on the proposed merger in our FAQ section.
By combining our resources, we can invest more money into improving your homes. Last year we invested £102m on major works in our residents’ homes. We replaced 2,240 kitchens, 1,530 bathrooms, 3,866 heating and boiler systems. We will be able to do even more as a single housing association.
Significant improvements have already been made in completing repairs on time and we ended the year up on our 2016 performance with 95.6% of repairs completed on time and 79.9% resident satisfaction with repairs.
Thousands of residents are currently involved in influencing the services we deliver, from the ‘Circle Voice’ online discussion platform to the Affinity Sutton National Ambassador programme along with regional resident engagement days. By coming together we can create more opportunities for you to share your views with us, to volunteer in your community and connect with us online. Currently we provide opportunities for residents to get involved locally through estate initiatives, green ambassadors and youth programmes. For those who are interested there are also opportunities to get involved regionally in scrutiny arrangements, and policy discussions and community panels. We also have board members on the board of the housing associations in the Group. This year, thousands of residents have been involved in activities to ensure resident views were heard, such as the Circle Development Design Guide review, Merger and Restructure Consultation, and our Complaints Policy. Residents have also helped to shape the repairs and maintenance involvement structure with Regional Service Task Teams. Service Improvement Panels have been set up to review and scrutinise regional service delivery. The following reviews have been completed or are in progress:
Last year we ran courses and employment support programmes that helped 1,700 people into work. As a combined housing association, our ambition will be to more than double that figure – supporting 4,000 people into work every year. Combined with more apprenticeships and training programmes, there will be more opportunities than ever for our residents to benefit from.
We pride ourselves on making our estates better places to live, from our grant programme for community assets to the provision of allotments, gardens and even adventure playgrounds. Last year we completed 2,294 estate inspections of Affinity Sutton properties, and 4,318 inspections of Circle properties. The checks include monitoring neighbourhood conditions (including internal and external communal areas), identifying health and safety and repair issues, and ensuring that any other housing related concerns are dealt with promptly and effectively. Following recommendations from residents, over £248,820 was spent on estate improvements, benefiting over 144 estates. We want to continue this work and expand it making local estates more attractive and places where residents want to live. We have Tenancy Sustainment Officers and Welfare Benefits Advisers who are there to give additional help and support at any time during your tenancy and service task teams who work to represent tenants’ needs. By coming together, we can work with even more residents to realise their ambitions for their community.
We help our residents to manage their money more effectively, from guidance on budgeting, through to our partnership with Leeds Credit Union, which provides access to affordable loans and savings products. As one housing association, we can expand these services and do more to support residents who need help getting online and improving their digital skills.
We plan to build 50,000 homes over the next decade. There will be a mix of tenures, but our priority will always be to provide housing for those in need. At the same time, we will be looking at new programmes for regeneration, building on the approved plans from last year that extend from Plymouth to the London Borough of Merton.
Find answers to some common questions our residents have asked us about the merge between Affinity Sutton and Circle Housing.