Industry news

Housing association mergers continue apace

the country, as the drive for efficiency savings and bigger volumes to deliver new development work persists. In East Anglia, Cambridge based King Street


Housing Society transferred its 600 homes to the 11,000 home Aldwyck Housing Group. The organisations said the deal frees up £40m for investing in the building of new homes in Cambridgeshire over the next five years. Craig Glasper, former chief executive of King Street, takes responsibility for “seeking opportunities for growth” in Cambridgeshire and in Aldwyck’s wider operating area. Sara Garnham, former chair of King Street

Housing Society and now an Aldwyck board member, said: “We know all too well that Cambridgeshire, like much of the UK, has a chronic shortage of affordable quality homes. Through our merger we can play our part in addressing the housing crisis and continue to provide great service to our existing customers.” In the capital Notting Hill and Genesis

completed their controversial 64,000-home merger, to form Notting Hill Genesis, less than nine months after talks were first announced. Residents of both associations and the former chair of Genesis had publicly declared their opposition to the deal, but to no avail. Shareholders (made up of residents, founders,

ergers in the social housing sector continued with several completed deals being announced in different parts of

current and former board members and others) voted strongly in favour of merging. The two organisations aim to free up £20m worth of savings a year through the merger, and hope this will help them to deliver 400 extra homes per annum. Kate Davies, the chief executive of Notting Hill,

is now chief executive of the new organisation, while Elizabeth Froude, deputy chief executive of Genesis, has the same role at the new association. Dipesh Shah, the chair of Genesis, is now chair of Notting Hill Genesis. Meanwhile two Greater Manchester housing

associations have completed a merger to become one of the largest landlords in the region. New Charter and Adactus Housing have formed Jigsaw Homes Group, with more than 33,000 homes in ownership. The new group also has stock in the North West

and the East Midlands, with plans to deliver more than 2,700 homes during the next three years. It has an estimated turnover of £194m and employs about 1,450 staff. Former Adactus boss Hilary Roberts will take over as chief executive, while Ian Munro, former chief executive of New Charter, is set to retire after a transition period. The group comprises six housing association

subsidiaries, as well as a housing advice charity, a development arm and a procurement company. It will operate across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire.

News in brief

• Waltham Forest Council in north east London has agreed an £88m partnership with Mears to buy 400 homes for people in emergency accommodation like B&Bs. The council has almost 100 households in B&Bs and spends £3.4m a year on emergency housing, with 2,326 families in temporary accommodation and 8,496 households on its waiting list. It hopes to make a return on its investment through house prices over the life of the 40-year initiative.

• In a welcome move the Government has overturned its controversial policy to scrap housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds under Universal Credit. In a written statement to Parliament before Easter, Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, announced the Government would “amend regulations so that all 18 to 21-year-olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in Universal Credit”. The news was warmly welcomed by campaigners. David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “It’s very good news the Government is restoring housing benefit to 18-21 year olds. This benefit cut has been creating great confusion over whether young people were eligible for these vital funds. Housing associations have told us that as a result they have seen more young, vulnerable people sleeping rough, or forced to depend on unscrupulous private landlords and dangerous accommodation. This was a policy that made no sense and the decision is a positive sign that the Government is listening on welfare reform.”

HA fined after exposing employees to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

A community housing association in Wales has been fined £30,000 after it failed to effectively manage its employees’ exposure to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) over a prolonged period of time. Following the company’s introduction of health

surveillance in May 2015, a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS which has side effects such as pain and loss of strength in the hands and has been known to cause distress and sleep disturbance. An investigation by the Health & Safety

Executivefound Tai Calon failed to adequately assess the risk to employees from the use of vibratory tools, failed to implement adequate measures to reduce employees’ exposure to vibration, failed to place employees under suitable health surveillance and failed to provide employees with suitable information, instruction, and training.

Tai Calon Community Housing of The Rising

Sun Industrial Estate, Blaina, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £2,789.25 in costs. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector

Paul Newton commented: “No one’s health should not be made worse by the work they do. In this case, if Tai Calon had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor its workers’ health. “This prosecution highlights the health risks

from using vibratory tools and the importance of employers having a health surveillance programme in place. Where vibratory tools are used, employers should monitor the health of employees using them and ensure appropriate systems are in place to manage and control the risk from vibration.”

• Research by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that nine cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, are each making more than £10,000 a year by acting as private landlords. The investigation was prompted by Jeremy Hunt’s failure to declare the purchase of seven luxury flats that he subsequently rented out. The paper’s analysis of the Parliamentary Register of MPs’ interests showed eight other members of the cabinet own property that is rented out for five-figure annual sums. The Health Secretary has amended the register, which now shows he has a half share of a holiday home in Italy, a half share in an office building in Hammersmith and the seven apartments in Southampton. Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who both live in Downing Street, rent out their personal homes in central London. Former Housing Secretary Sajid Javid rents out a property, while Chris Grayling rents out two properties. Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Brandon Lewis (a former Housing Minister) and Alun Cairns, also own and rent out property. | HMM May 2018 | 17

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