This is the start of our formal consultation with you on the proposal. It is your opportunity to share your views and influence our Board’s decision. The consultation period starts on 18th September 2019 and continues for six weeks until Wednesday 30th October 2019.
Your feedback is crucial. We want to hear from as many residents as possible within the six
weeks to help shape and inform our proposals. The Boards of both Suffolk Housing and Flagship will consider your comments before reaching any decision on the transfer.
Suffolk Housing and Flagship are planning to merge. This means that Suffolk Housing would no longer be a separate organisation and would become part of the Flagship Group.
The Suffolk Housing name and brand would remain, as would the terms of your tenancy agreement, your rent and the way your home is managed. The same staff you are familiar with would continue to be responsible for managing, repairing and improving your home, and we will retain our office at Coppice House in Bury St Edmunds.
Your legal rights would be unchanged and the Government’s Regulator of Social Housing
(which regulates all housing associations, including Suffolk Housing and Flagship) would still protect you.
WIDER BENEFITS TO RESIDENTS
For residents like you and your neighbours, the transfer will provide a big opportunity for us to do more for you by creating a stronger organisation with larger resources and greater financial strength.
As part of the Flagship Group, Suffolk Housing will:
- Invest an additional £2m every year in maintaining and improving Suffolk Housing’s existing homes to help communities flourish. This will enable many more improvements to be made to our homes than would be possible if we remained independent.
- Increase resident involvement so tenants can share their views and help shape the organisation.
- Improve the range and level of services we offer to residents – we will identify the best practices from Suffolk Housing and the Flagship Group and share the knowledge across the combined organisations.
- Be part of a group building 11,000 new energy efficient homes over the next ten years, including more affordable rural homes in Suffolk. Currently, Suffolk Housing does not have the funds to build new homes.
- The Group has regional offices throughout East Anglia, including: Norwich, Dereham, Mildenhall, Felixstowe and Woodbridge. It could be that one of these offices would be more local and convenient for you.
Without this transfer, none of the opportunities listed above would be possible.
There are fewer sources of funding for housing associations than there used to be and we have not been able to invest in our homes, residents and technology to the extent we’d like, meaning we’ve not been able to deliver the services you’ve told us you want. Merging with Flagship provides a genuine opportunity to make the investments needed over the coming years.
By merging we can bring together our resources and become more efficient. This would mean that we would have regional strength to improve our existing homes and build more properties, as well as local knowledge on how we manage our homes.
WHEN IS THIS HAPPENING?
We are aiming to formally join together in early 2020, but integrating our services will take much longer. We want to get everything right and consult as widely as we can with our shareholders, other stakeholders (such as Members of Parliament, local authorities and funders), and colleagues and – most importantly – with you, our residents.
The process could stop at any time before the final transfer is approved, but our two respective Boards have been working together to try and identify any potential issues before problems arise.
Flagship Group owns and manages over 28,000 homes across the east of England. This includes Victory Housing Trust, who joined the Flagship Group in January 2019.
In addition to being a housing landlord, Flagship is actively building new homes across the east of England. This is something that Suffolk Housing currently does not have the funds to do. Flagship also – within the Group – operates RFT, a repairs and maintenance contractor, and Gasway, a heating installation and serving company.
Suffolk Housing already works closely with Gasway, as they are one of our existing contractors.
Quite simply, our two organisations have a lot in common and we share similar visions and values. Flagship is the largest local provider with the greatest capacity to invest in and improve services for people living in Suffolk.
We believe through working together we can provide better services to existing residents and more new homes for those in housing need. We also share the ambition to become an innovative leader in customer service and tenant engagement.