Social Housing & Contracting - Relevant News
Aster Confirms Merger Plans with Central & Cecil
29/10/2021

Aster Group has confirmed plans to merge with older people housing specialist Central and Cecil (C&C). The new combined housing provider will own and manage 34,500 homes and, according to the associations, it will have a capacity to deliver 12,000 new homes by 2030 via a £2.5bn investment programme. Aster currently owns and manages 32,000 homes in the South East and South West, with care specialist C&C managing 1,850 homes in London, predominantly for people aged over 55. Plans for a merger were first announced in June, with the two associations stating the new group will enable £571m worth of asset management, maintenance, improvements and sustainability u...

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Aster Group has confirmed plans to merge with older people housing specialist Central and Cecil (C&C). The new combined housing provider will own and manage 34,500 homes and, according to the associations, it will have a capacity to deliver 12,000 new homes by 2030 via a £2.5bn investment programme. Aster currently owns and manages 32,000 homes in the South East and South West, with care specialist C&C managing 1,850 homes in London, predominantly for people aged over 55. Plans for a merger were first announced in June, with the two associations stating the new group will enable £571m worth of asset management, maintenance, improvements and sustainability upgrades to existing stock.  

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Government Announces £3.9bn Energy Efficiency and Green-Initiative Funding
18/10/2021

In conjunction with the Heat and Buildings Strategy, ministers have announced £3.9bn of funding, as well as a target to ensure no traditional gas boilers are installed in homes after 2035. The £3.9bn package includes £800m for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which can be used by social landlords, including Housing Associations, to carry out energy efficiency upgrades in their tenants’ homes. A further £950m will go towards the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, which will be used by Local Authorities to support low-income households with carrying out energy efficiency upgrades. Meanwhile, £450m will be allocated to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a new policy that...

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In conjunction with the Heat and Buildings Strategy, ministers have announced £3.9bn of funding, as well as a target to ensure no traditional gas boilers are installed in homes after 2035. The £3.9bn package includes £800m for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, which can be used by social landlords, including Housing Associations, to carry out energy efficiency upgrades in their tenants’ homes. A further £950m will go towards the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, which will be used by Local Authorities to support low-income households with carrying out energy efficiency upgrades. Meanwhile, £450m will be allocated to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a new policy that will see homeowners given grants of £5,000 from April next year to install low-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps.  

This is intended to support the Governments new target to ensure all new heating systems installed in UK homes by 2035 are either using low-carbon technologies, such as electric heat pumps, or support new technologies like hydrogen-ready boilers, where the Government is confident it can supply green fuel.  

A further £338m will be spent on the Heat Network Transformation Programme, which aims to develop and grow the country’s heat networks, while the remaining £1.425bn will be allocated to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which provides funding for retrofitting public sector buildings such as schools and hospitals.

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New Housing Secretary Appointed in Cabinet Reshuffle
15/09/2021

Robert Jenrick has lost his job as Secretary of State for Housing in Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Jenrick has been replaced with Michael Gove, who will take of the cross-government responsibility for levelling up. Mr Gove will also retain his ministerial responsibility for the Union and elections.


Merger Between Sanctuary Housing and Southern Housing Group Called Off
03/05/2021

Sanctuary Group and Southern Housing have called off their merger talks. Both Housing Associations have agreed that while the partnership talks were positive they would not to proceed with merger discussions but instead, will continue to explore ways in which they can work together as in joint partnerships. Had the amalgamation taken place would have created one of UK's largest Housing Associations.


Eight Local Authorities Merge to Form Two New Unitary Authorities from 1st April 2021
01/04/2021

om the 1st April  2021, eight existing councils covering the Northamptonshire region will merge to create two new Government legislated unitary councils. These two new authorities will be called West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council.   West Northamptonshire Council will replace:

  • Daventry District Council,
  • Northampton Borough Council,
  • South Northamptonshire Council and
  • Northampton County Council.

North Northamptonshire Council will replace:

om the 1st April  2021, eight existing councils covering the Northamptonshire region will merge to create two new Government legislated unitary councils. These two new authorities will be called West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council.   West Northamptonshire Council will replace:

  • Daventry District Council,
  • Northampton Borough Council,
  • South Northamptonshire Council and
  • Northampton County Council.

North Northamptonshire Council will replace:

  • Corby Borough Council,
  • East Northamptonshire Council,
  • Kettering Borough Council and
  • Wellingborough Borough Council.  

The process by which these two new councils were created is through new alternative legislation made by the Government owing to the postponement of elections and the lack of newly elected councillors. Therefore, in May 2020, two shadow authorities North and West Northamptonshire were set up by combining the existing memberships from current district, borough and county councils. Elections to these new unitary councils will then be held 6th May 2021 and residents will vote for their preferred councillor.  

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Merger Discussions Between Sanctuary Group and Southern Housing Association
18/02/2021

Sanctuary and Southern Housing Group are in Merger talks to create the UK’s largest Housing Association. Exploratory talks are underway between Worcester-based Sanctuary with 100,000 homes including 100 care homes, supported housing and student accommodation across England and Scotland and Southern Housing Association 30,000 homes across London, Reading, Isle of Wight and South East England. Both boards are working to generate a complete set of proposals and anticipate this will be available in Summer 2021.


Manchester City Council to Take ALMO Back In-house
25/01/2021

Manchester City Council has announced that it is to close its arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Northwards Housing. Established by the council in 2005, Northwards is expected to close, owing to the poor health of both the ALMO’s repairs service and the council’s forecasted £453m deficit of its 30-year housing revenue business plan. These deficiencies, noted in June 2020, resulted in 1,519 residents voting in favour of taking ALMO services back in-house in December 2020.


East Kent Housing ALMO Taken Back In-House by Councils
01/10/2020

Four Councils have retaken control of housing management services and begun to wind up their jointly owned arms length management organisation (ALMO). From 1st October, services previously provided by East Kent Housing and the vast majority of its staff have transferred to Canterbury, Dover, Thanet and Folkestone & Hythe Councils. East Kent Housing had managed a combined 15,800 homes on behalf of the Local Authorities since 2011 and was the only ALMO working for multiple Councils.


Catalyst and Rosebery in Partnership Talks
03/08/2020

Rosebery Housing Association has announced that it is in early partnership talks with Catalyst after seeking a partner with knowledge of estate regeneration in order to develop more homes. The partnership would see 2,500-home Rosebery join 29,000-home Catalyst as a subsidiary with authority over a defined geography. Discussions are ongoing and neither board has approved the partnership yet.


Colne Housing and Greenfields Community Housing Complete Merger
09/07/2020

Greenfields Community Housing and Colne Housing have merged. The newly formed organisation merged on 1st July to become Eastlight Community Homes which is now responsible for over 11,000 homes. The merger will enable further investment into existing stock, with an extra £8 million expected to be spent on new kitchens, bathrooms, electric heating, doors and roofs in residents’ homes over the next five years.


Prime Minister Announces Planning Reforms
30/06/2020

The Prime Minister has announced “the most radical reforms” to the England's planning system since World War II with a collection of housing measures “to support homebuilding across England”. Boris Johnson plans to extensively reform the country’s planning system, launching a planning Policy Paper next month. As part of the other planning changes that were announced, the Government will expand the scope of commercial buildings - including recently vacant shops - that can be converted to residential use without planning permission. Housebuilders will also not require a “normal planning application” to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential...

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The Prime Minister has announced “the most radical reforms” to the England's planning system since World War II with a collection of housing measures “to support homebuilding across England”. Boris Johnson plans to extensively reform the country’s planning system, launching a planning Policy Paper next month. As part of the other planning changes that were announced, the Government will expand the scope of commercial buildings - including recently vacant shops - that can be converted to residential use without planning permission. Housebuilders will also not require a “normal planning application” to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential buildings if they are to be repurposed as homes. And, through a “fast track” approval process, property owners can build additional space above their properties, “subject to neighbour consultation”.

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Scottish Housing Associations Postpone Merger
27/03/2020

Pentland Housing Association and Cairn Housing Association have announced that they have delayed their merger. Pentland has originally planned to transfer all its homes to Cairn, but this has now been put on hold until the coronavirus pandemic has passed. The announcement comes as the Scottish Housing Regulator temporarily shifts it focus to monitor the impact of the virus on social landlords across the country, which means that only the most critical of regulatory engagements will continue, with all others postponed including with Pentland and Cairn.


New Housing Minister in Cabinet Reshuffle
13/02/2020

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a Cabinet reshuffle on 13th February. In the reshuffle, Esther McVey lost her position as Minister of State for Housing. Ms McVey has been replaced with Christopher Pincher. Mr Pincher was previously Minister of State for Europe and the Americas.   Mr Pincher becomes the 10th Housing Minister in the past decade.


Bovis Completes Galliford Acquisition and Rebrands
03/01/2020

Bovis Homes has completed its acquisition of Galliford Try's Partnerships and Regeneration, and Linden Homes businesses. The £1.1bn deal went through on 3rd January 2020, and also triggered a rebranding. The Bovis group will now be known as Vistry Group, which will be used for both the enlarged housebuilding and partnerships businesses. Both Bovis Homes and Linden Homes will retain their brands under Vistry Group to 'maximise the opportunities from dual branding', while Galliford Try Partnerships becomes Vistry Partnerships under the Vistry Group banner.


Bradford Council to Reopen its Housing Revenue Account
29/11/2019

Bradford Council has announced that it will reopen its Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the first time in over a decade following advice from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). In 2003, the Bradford Council transferred all of its housing stock to Bradford Community Housing Trust. The Council then started building new homes in 2010, but was permitted by the Government to hold stock without the need for an HRA. The Council has built a total of 428 homes for rent since 2010.

In guidance issued in March 2019, the MHCLG has stated that any Local Authority with stock exceeding 200 social ...

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Bradford Council has announced that it will reopen its Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for the first time in over a decade following advice from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). In 2003, the Bradford Council transferred all of its housing stock to Bradford Community Housing Trust. The Council then started building new homes in 2010, but was permitted by the Government to hold stock without the need for an HRA. The Council has built a total of 428 homes for rent since 2010.

In guidance issued in March 2019, the MHCLG has stated that any Local Authority with stock exceeding 200 social dwellings is required to open an HRA.

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Homes England Grants £38m to Speed Up Development of 2,000 Homes
28/10/2019

Homes England has agreed funding deals worth £38.2m with six Local Authorities, to speed up the construction of at least 2,000 homes across the country.

The funding comes from the Government's £350m Local Authority Accelerated Construction (LACC) programme, which was launched to help unlock public land as well as speed up the deliver of Local Authority housing schemes.


Stafford & Rural Homes Completes Merger with Housing Plus
02/10/2019

Housing Plus and Stafford & Rural Homes have merger to form a new organisation, which will retain the Housing Plus name.


L&Q Completes Merger with Trafford Housing Trust
02/10/2019

Trafford Housing Trust (THT) has become a standalone subsidiary of L&Q as it completes the £4bn deal. As part of the deal THT will retain its own brand, board and executive management team.

The merger is expected to unlock L&Q's ambition to deliver 20,000 new homes in the North West.


Welsh Government Announce £20m Loan Scheme for Housing Associations
01/10/2019

The Welsh Government has announced that £20m has been made available from the Land for Housing scheme to help Housing Association buy building land. As the loan gets repaid, the money will be reinvested into the scheme, so that more land can be purchased and more can be homes built.


Housing Plus and Stafford & Rural in Merger Talks
14/08/2019

Stafford & Rural Homes and Housing Plus Group have announced that they are in merger negotiations. The merger is expected to take place in October 2019.


Prime Minister Appoints New Housing Secretary and Minister
24/07/2019

The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has appointed a new Housing Secretary and Housing Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle.

James Brokenshire has been replaced as Housing Secretary by Robert Jenrick. Mr Jenrick previously worked in the Treasury as Exchequer Secretary.

Esther McVey has been appointed as the new Housing Minister. Ms McVey takes on the role from Kit Malthouse who has moved to the role of Policing Minister. Ms McVey previously held the role of Work and Pensions Secretary between January and November 2018.


CIH Housing 2019
25/06/2019

This week we are in Manchester for the CIH Housing 2019 Exhibition and Conference. We are exhibiting, so why not stop by our stand for a chat! You can find us on E33.


Come and Visit Us at the Housing 2019 Exhibition
11/06/2019

Focal will be exhibiting at this years CIH Housing Exhibiton and Conference, so why not drop by our stand to have a chat with one of the team.

Alternatively, call 01297 626770 to book in a time to talk with our Director.


Peabody and Town & Country Have Merged
10/05/2019

Town & Country Housing Group has become a subsidiary of Peabody, as they complete their merger deal. The deal will see the subsidiary increase its development pipeline by more than 500 homes each year.


Catalyst and Aldwyck have Merged
02/05/2019

Catalyst Housing and Aldwyck Housing Group have merged, with Aldwyck becoming a subsidiary of Catalyst. The newly formed organisation now aims to increase its development programme across London and the Home Counties.

For more information on this merger call 01297 626770.


Warmer Homes Scotland Extended to 2022 with £38m Funding Boost
17/04/2019

The Warmer Homes Scotland initiative has awarded a £38m funding boost to managing agent Warmworks to continue to deliver the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty scheme until 2022.

People at risk of fuel poverty are eligible through the scheme to have improvements made to their property such as new heating systems and insulation.


L&Q and Trafford Housing Trust Announce Merger Plans
02/04/2019

L&Q and Trafford Housing Trust have announced plans to merge. The merger would see Trafford Housing Trust become a wholly owned subsidiary of L&Q, and will unlock the potential for the development of thousands of new homes over the next 10 years in the North West region, half of which will be affordable. The merger is expected to be finalised in June 2019.


Five New Garden Towns Announced
25/03/2019

Homes England has announced five new Garden Towns across the country. The five new schemes will join the existing 23 Garden Communities that the Government is currently supporting. The new Garden Towns are:  

  • Grazeley Garden Settlement
  • Hemel Garden Communities
  • Easton Park, North Uttlesford and West of Braintree Garden Communities
  • Tewkesbury Ashchurch Garden Community
  • Meecebrook

Bolton at Home and Arcon Housing Group Confirm Merger
19/03/2019

Housing Association, Bolton at Home, has acquired Arcon Housing Group in a bid to develop more homes. Arcon will become a subsidiary of Bolton at Home as of April 2019.

The two groups first announced that they were in merger talks back in September 2018.

For more information on this or other ongoing mergers, give Focal a call on 01297 626770.


Bovis Homes Launches Partnership Housing Division for Housing Associations
28/02/2019

Bovis Homes has announced its plans to launch a new housing division to develop homes specifically for UK Housing Associations. The Bovis Partnership Housing Division will team up with associations on land-led schemes, initially from its own strategic land bank with a view to possibly partner on Housing Association plots. 

The company has already identified six sites from its strategic land bank that are suitable for partnership development.


Government Announces £9m Cash Boost for Garden Communities
13/02/2019

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced a £9m cash injection to speed up the locally-led building of Garden Communities. This latest funding will help get 21 sites ready for development including the next phase of Bicester Garden Town.

Further information can be found in the Newbuild Initiatives section of PREEMPT.


Successful Bidders Plan to Add Extra Housing Associations to Strategic Partnerships
08/02/2019

Four of the Strategic Partnerships that were recently announced have confirmed plans to add further Housing Associations to their partnerships to help deliver the additional housing starts. As part of Homes England's strategic partner agreements, Housing Associations can bring other no-for-profit organisations into their partnerships or give other associations access to their grant.


Eight More Partnerships for Homes England
01/02/2019

Homes England has secured a further eight strategic partnerships bringing its total partnerships with Housing Associations to over 20. All the partnerships will share a £1.7bn funding package to deliver roughly 40,000 affordable housing starts by March 2022.

Successful partners and allocations for all of Homes England's strategic partnerships can be found in the Newbuild section of PREEMPT.


Right to Buy Ends in Wales
28/01/2019

The Right to Buy and associated schemes have officially been abolished in Wales. The Bill to scrap the Right to Buy received Royal Assent on 24th January 2018, but the ban was not enforced until 26th January 2019 to give tenants a last chance to become homeowners through the policy.