Following the creation of the UK’s largest housing association, I have something to say about BHT and mergers

The big news in housing today is the creation of a new 135,000-home housing association resulting from the merger of three housing groups: the Hyde Group, L&Q, and East Thames. It is set to be the biggest merger in housing association history with ability of building 100,000 homes over the next 10 years.  The new group will be the fourth largest house builder of any kind in the UK.

Earlier this year Affinity Sutton and Circle announced their plans to merge to form an association with 125,000 homes.

And now the BIG news from BHT. Today I am announcing that ….. we are not merging and will remain a landlord of 311 homes.  We will continue to manage around 200 homes in the private rented sector, and will provide specialist supported housing for a further 300 people, as well as our day centre, advice centres and a range of other support services.

We won’t ever be the house builder for the nation, nor are we able to achieve efficiencies from having a call centre (several hundred miles away from their tenants), but we do offer something that the big boys can’t.  BHT’s housing staff know all of our tenants.  We know when they are not well, when they have difficulties, and they can always pop in to have a chat with a housing officer that they know by name.

Merger is all the rage but I wonder whether size really matters.  Yes, the new mega group will build homes, but who will they be for, and what will the rents be?  Housing associations were originally created to meet the needs of local people. They were responding to specific need and ensured that they provided good quality homes and could respond to the circumstances of their tenants. Will these mega groups have tenants at the core of everything they do? I hope so, but I do have my doubts.


4 thoughts on “Following the creation of the UK’s largest housing association, I have something to say about BHT and mergers

  1. That’s fine for BHT existing tenants, but what about the 17,000 new affordable homes needed in Brighton and Hove (according to the Councils housing needs study), who will build these much needed homes for low income households? Having just read the Brighton and Hove news article on the merger, the new organisation will build 50,000 affordable homes each year, with half for rent. This makes the new merged organisation the biggest affordable house builder in the country. Seems like a good enough driver for a merger to me. Fair enough that BHT is content working hard to fulfil its local mission, but ther is no need for knocking the attempts of other organisation’s striving to meet housing need. Also, who is to say the call centre or housing officers will be hundreds of miles away? That is unfounded speculation which I would have thought is unhelpful for both tenants and staff of the merging organisations.

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