We are working on proposals for a partnership with Fortis Living to create a new Housing Group. The business case for the move was approved by the Fortis Living Board and the Waterloo Housing Group Board on 31 October 2017 and is subject to appropriate consultation and due diligence.
The vision is to create a new Housing Group with around 45000 homes and 120,000 customers across the Midlands and Central England. It will be one of the largest Registered Providers of affordable housing in the Midlands.
The financial strength and social purpose of the proposed partnership means that it can do more for the people who live in its homes and in the communities in which it works. The partnership with Fortis Living will also be committed to developing its 1200 employees and will aim to attract the very best talent. It also plans to run an extensive apprenticeship programme giving more young people each year the chance to start a career in housing.
There is a huge similarity between us, with both Waterloo and Fortis having a similar desire to actively invest in affordable housing in the Midlands and to deliver more homes that meet the regional and national housing crisis.
Both Waterloo and Fortis are high performing, customer focused, financially strong, social housing businesses whose Values are at the heart of everything we do and these Values will continue to be central to the Vision for the proposed partnership.
Subject to consultation, due diligence and final Board approval, the new Housing Group would come into effect from 1 October 2018.
Fortis Living is a not-for-profit housing provider based in Worcestershire, with around 16,000 homes primarily across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. They also provide homes and services for those needing extra support, including supported, sheltered and extra-care.
Fortis has achieved its objective to deliver over 500 homes a year over the last 3 years. Fortis build a range of tenures from affordable rent to market sale.
In addition to its general needs properties, Fortis also has a large number of schemes for older people including an Extra Care Village in Hereford, with another Extra Care Village developed in Malvern and specialist housing for younger people, including a Foyer in Malvern.
We are both strong, high-performing housing businesses with similar backgrounds, a strong social purpose and shared vision and culture. We also overlap in many of the areas we work in.
The key benefits to partnership are:
Our combined financial strength means we will be able to deliver around 2000 new affordable homes each year across (rented and low cost home ownership) within 5 years. That’s 500 more homes than we could achieve separately and a huge programme of 18,000 new homes over the first 10 years.
This means that the combined Group will be able to make a greater contribution to tackling the acute housing shortage in many of the areas we operate in.
Our combined investment in digital services will improve the overall customer experience and provide more services through digital channels.
This work is already underway through initiatives such as Your Waterloo. Our shared experiences will help us to deliver improved customer engagement and knowledge of our customer’s needs and expectations. Another key benefit of the proposed partnership would be the potential for us to enhance service delivery and community development initiatives with customers and communities across the Midlands, making full use of our increased presence as a partnership.
The new Housing Group would re-invest at least £50 million per year into our existing housing.
This will give significant opportunities to deliver more services in-house. This volume of expenditure provides significant opportunities to broaden the role of an in-house contractor through our own Property Care business, which means we will have even greater direct control over the quality of repairs and maintenance undertaken for customers.
Our significant combined financial strength would help us to respond to any future risks economic risks or downturn in the housing market.
It will also allow us to have greater influence for our customers and communities locally, regionally and nationally. We also believe there is potential to make annual savings of £12 million by Year 5, that’s £90 million over the first 10 years. The savings will be invested in new homes and services with a commitment to invest 80% of savings towards new homes and 20% towards customer service initiatives.
The proposed partnership provides an opportunity to further develop our current resident and customer engagement strategies and structures, and ensure there are appropriate links with the partnership’s governance structure, building on the current work we do with Scrutiny Panels and other involved residents.
Our combined resources will bring more opportunities for our combined 1200 employees. Better career opportunities, comprehensive training and development programme (including more apprenticeships) will help us to retain our best people and attract the best talent.
A new Group Structure would be created with a new parent company. Fortis Living and Waterloo Housing will remain as separate organisations and sit alongside a new Property Care business, Waterloo Homes Limited and a separate development company.
As you can see, the proposals are still at a relatively early stage, with a lot of detail still to be finalised. We want to ensure we are as clear as we can be at each stage and we will keep you informed and fully updated as work progresses. We think that the proposed partnership with Fortis Living is fundamentally positive for employees and customers for all of the reasons highlighted.
The proposals will have no impact on the rent and service charges you currently pay. It will also have no impact on your tenancy or lease terms and conditions, other than to the extent that your tenancy or lease will be with Waterloo Housing Group Limited by the end of March 2018, following the planned Group amalgamation we consulted customers on some months back.
You will continue to contact us in the same ways that you do currently.
If you have the right to buy currently, this will continue to be the case.
Yes. Surpluses made will continue to be reinvested in building and maintaining our homes and services. We will continue to be regulated in the same way that we are currently.
With Fortis Living and Waterloo Housing Group remaining as separate companies, there will initially be little change to the way we are structured and work currently, for much of the business.
We must hit some key milestones before the proposed partnership can take place:
It is important to us however that we seek the views of customers and set out the medium and long term benefits of these proposals. Both Fortis Living and Waterloo Housing Group will do this mainly through our websites, forthcoming newsletters and by discussing these with involved residents.
Your views are important.
If you have any comments, concerns or queries about these proposals please fill out the form below, or you can contact Andrew Bush (Group Head of Policy and Communications) on 0800 436 016, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please contact us by Wednesday 31 January 2018 with any comments or questions to ensure that these are taken into account.
Our respective Boards will take account of all customer feedback before they take any final decisions on the way forward.