Proposed Merger - Residents’ Frequently Asked Questions
Published - 5 December 2017
The FAQs will continue to be updated going forward to capture new issues raised.
We want to build more homes – in London and the south east – and as a new, combined organisation, we will have greater financial strength to deliver that aim. We will invest in our social purpose: to build quality, affordable homes in thriving communities, to provide modern and valued services, and to create amazing places.
For residents like you and your neighbours, the merger will provide a big opportunity for us to raise service standards, do more for you with more homes available in our stock, and increase value for money.
We want to prioritise modernising and automating services to offer you more choice and make it easier you to access services and information with and from us. You will still be able to talk directly to a member of staff if that is what you prefer.
Why merge with Notting Hill?
We believe we are a good match as we have a lot in common.
We were both founded in the 1960s in west London by local people who shared a similar vision – to house west London’s working poor, providing them with a home from which to build themselves and their families a more secure future.
Although we’ve both evolved with the times, our core purpose as housing associations has remained the same throughout: to provide homes for low-income households in London and the south east.
Today, we employ similar numbers of people and own and manage a similar amount of homes.
We are both involved in major regeneration projects, strengthening our commitment to developing mixed communities.
We are similar in outlook, areas of operations and values.
What will the new organisation be called?
The new organisation will be known as Notting Hill Genesis.
What happens after the two organisations merge to become one?
In the short-term customers will notice very little difference.
Following the formal merger, residents who are currently tenants or leaseholders with either Notting Hill Housing Trust or Genesis Housing Association will have a new landlord – Notting Hill Genesis.
An integration programme, which we expect to take about two years, will follow the formal merger. Neither the change of landlord nor the integration process will impact you detrimentally – we will continue to provide high standards of customer service throughout.
Any changes that are needed will be made as seamlessly as we can. Our focus will be on maintaining and improving customer service.
There will need to be discussion and negotiation on what the culture of the new organisation will be, how to deliver services and what standards to adopt.
By the end of the two years we will have a new organisation that will be neither Notting Hill Housing nor Genesis, but a fully integrated, new organisation, which offers the best of both.
As a resident, how will I benefit from this merger?
For residents, the merger will provide opportunities for us to raise our standards and improve service delivery.
We have already started work to create a ‘resident promise’, focusing on the key themes that you’ve told us matter to you.
You can find out more about the development of the resident promise here
In addition, we will have more buying power as a larger organisation. That means we can buy more things cheaper and provide better value for money.
How will the new organisation retain a local focus when it is so large?
We fundamentally believe in providing a local service to our residents. We know from talking to you just how important local knowledge and a local connection with the communities we serve are. We will ensure that a local focus is not lost and that levels of service remain high.
Will you still build social housing?
Yes. This is one of the major reasons for bringing our two organisations together. Both Notting Hill Housing and Genesis currently build social housing and we will continue to do so in future.
Will the merger mean more affordable homes?
Both Genesis and Notting Hill Housing have a history and continued commitment to delivering new affordable homes. In the recent past Government policy has not supported delivery of new affordable (particularly social rented) homes. Both organisations campaigned for this to change. At the same time, in a very difficult financial climate with no public funding and a massive shortage of housing in London we tried to maintain delivery of new homes.
The good news is that we are both now strategic partners with the Greater London Authority (GLA). This means that Genesis will deliver more than 2,400 homes over the next four years of which 60% will be affordable homes, including more than 600 either social rent or London affordable rent homes – London affordable rent is a new GLA product, which aims to mirror social rent. Notting Hill Housing’s partnership with the GLA will deliver 8,000 homes up to 2022. At least 60% of these will be affordable, including more than 1,800 social or London Affordable Rent homes.
As a merged organisation, we will be the second biggest developer of affordable homes, which will give us influence over Government policy to provide more investment in affordable and social homes. We will work with our residents and partners to push this agenda. This is a key reason for the proposed merger.
How are you using resident feedback?
All feedback will be presented to our Boards for them to take into account before a final decision is made. We want to hear from as many of you as possible to ensure that the merger delivers the best outcome. We know from the feedback we’ve received so far that some residents are concerned about the changes that might happen as a result of the proposed merger. We’re committed to listening to you to understand, and work through, those concerns.
Why don’t residents get a vote on the merger?
In common with many organisations, it is the Board that takes the decision on major strategy issues that affect how we are run.
The voice of our customers – residents, care and support service users and others – is crucial and we want to hear from as many of you as possible to help shape and inform our proposals. The Boards of both Genesis and NHH will be very much taking into account your views as residents as they take the decision on whether to merge.
We must be able to demonstrate that we have consulted widely and sought the views of our stakeholders, including residents. Even without that requirement, both NHH and Genesis believe it is right that we seek residents’ views – and we want as many of you to do that as possible. That is why we have set up the various consultation mechanisms, detailed in this document.
Who are the Genesis and NHH shareholders we hear about?
Both Genesis and Notting Hill Housing are housing associations. Both are charitable organisations under the law – they are not private organisations with corporate shareholders who have invested in our organisations for a financial return.
Our shareholders are past and present residents, former colleagues, former Board members and founders of some of our legacy organisations. They are people with a long-standing commitment to our organisations. They are not shareholders for financial gain, as happens in the corporate sector, but as guardians of the association. They have a right to be consulted about the development and future shape of the organisation and they must be consulted about any proposed changes to the constitution or rules of the association.
As we plan to combine our two organisations using a formal process known as amalgamation, our respective shareholders will need to vote on whether they agree to the proposal and the way in which we plan to achieve our merger. Without shareholder consent, the merger cannot proceed.
What’s happened so far?
We have already made a lot of progress. We’ve appointed Dipesh Shah OBE (currently chair of Genesis) as chair designate, Kate Davies (currently chief executive of NHH) as chief executive designate, and Elizabeth Froude (currently deputy chief executive of Genesis) as deputy chief executive designate.
We’ve also appointed shadow Board and executive team members for the proposed new organisation from among the people at that level already working in both organisations. This is a merger of equals – so there are six people from NHH and six from Genesis on the shadow Board, which will be chaired by Dipesh, and four from each in the shadow executive team, who will report to Kate.
These arrangements ensure that we have people in place to lead us through the formal merger process.
Will I need to move home?
You will not be asked to move home as a result of the merger.
What about secure tenancies?
If you’re already a secure tenant, your terms will remain the same.
As a result of recent Government legislation, housing associations are no longer allowed to offer secure tenancies, so we offer most new tenants fixed-term tenancies with a length of five years. In practice, the majority of our tenancies are assured tenancies.
Will repairs arrangements and contractors remain the same?
For the time being, all existing arrangements will continue just as they do now. Over the next few months and years, as specific contracts end, we’ll need either to reappoint existing contractors on new terms, or appoint new suppliers. There will be no immediate change to the companies who carry out repairs though.
Will how I report a repair change?
For the time being, there will be no change to existing arrangements.
Will your focus on digital services replace the personal touch?
Our plans to automate key services by investing in new technology will offer greater choice to our residents about how they interact with us. For many people, this will create smoother, simpler and faster systems, and will enable us to be more cost effective. But, we absolutely recognise that some residents need or prefer a more personal service, and we will continue to offer that alongside our new digital services.
Will the merger improve the quality of local services?
We believe so, yes. At the heart of our commitment to new digital services is the objective of freeing up our people to spend more time on the issues where you need the most support. These include resolving problems and complaints, ensuring the area you live in is in a good and safe condition, and listening to and acting on resident feedback.