Housing Associations: Mergers

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities written question – answered at on 4 November 2021.

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Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Social Housing Regulator's (a) oversight and (b) scrutiny of housing association mergers.

Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what comparative assessment he has made of the standard of service provided to residents (a) prior to and (b) following the merger of housing associations.

Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of ballots for residents in housing associations to decide whether to go ahead with mergers.

Photo of Apsana Begum Apsana Begum Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of proposals to merge One Housing Group with Riverside Housing.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Registered providers of social housing are required to comply with the regulatory standards set by the independent body, the Regulator of Social Housing. These include a 'Governance and Financial Viability standard' which requires, amongst other things, that private registered providers ensure they have effective governance arrangements that deliver their aims, objectives and intended outcomes for tenants in an effective, transparent and accountable manner. Among other things, those arrangements shall ensure that they are accountable to tenants, the Regulator and relevant stakeholders. These same requirements apply before and after any merger.

In addition, the Regulator's Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard requires that where a registered provider is considering a merger that will entail a change in landlord for one or more of their tenants, they must consult with affected tenants in a fair, timely, appropriate and effective manner. The proposals must set out clearly any actual or potential advantages and disadvantages (including costs) to tenants and the registered provider must be able to show how they have taken account of the views of affected tenants in reaching a decision.

The Regulator does not have a direct role to play in assessing the merits of potential mergers. As a consequence of measures introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, non-profit registered providers are no longer required to seek the Regulator's consent for restructures. They are, however, required to notify the Regulator when undertaking certain corporate restructures, including mergers.

It is for the Board of a registered provider to carefully consider the option of a merger taking into account all of the necessary requirements.

Housing associations are independent organisations and Government does not control the way in which they run their business or form their organisational structure. It would not be appropriate for the Department to comment on the merits of this particular merger.

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