Harvest and Arena announce Merger... and new affordable housing is top of the agenda
Harvest Housing Group and Arena Housing Group have taken a decision to merge in April 2012, creating a new group with 32,000 homes across the North West, Cumbria, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.
The merger has been agreed in principle by both organisations and will be confirmed following consultation with residents - a large number of whom have already been involved in designing the type of services the new group would offer.
The main driver behind the move is to harness the financial strength of both companies in maintaining and improving services for existing customers whilst developing new affordable housing. Both Harvest and Arena received 100% of the HCA funding they applied for in 2011, enabling them to develop more than 1300 new homes over the next three years.
Harvest Chief Executive, Ian Perry, who had led Harvest's growth over the past 25 years said, "From the beginning it was clear that Harvest and Arena shared the same values and vision. This is very much a merger of equals, and I am delighted that two excellent organisations are joining together."
Chief Executive Designate of the new group, Arena Chief Executive, Brian Cronin said, "This is a really exciting time for everyone at both groups. Through a merger we will have increased capacity and experience for innovation and new projects. It will give us the capacity to offer enhanced development and support for neighbourhoods, greater efficiency through shared services and the ability to maintain service levels to customers in what is an uncertain economic climate. The merger will also give us greater financial security in the future, helping us to safeguard our services to customers."
The Chair Designate of the new organisation - which will be named following consultation with residents - will be Kathy Cowell, DL, former Chair of Harvest with Arena's Mark Tattersall taking the Deputy Chair position.
Said Kathy Cowell, "The new group will truly place customers at the heart of everything it does and will focus on making a difference to people's lives. I am looking forward to working with Brian and am pleased that Ian will stay on to lead the transition and continue to represent the new group's interests with partner organisations."
Discussions regarding a merger between Harvest and Arena began in 2010 and since then extensive consultation has been carried out between both organisations, including staff and customers. A detailed business case was presented in September 2011 and the final decision to merge will be confirmed once customer consultation has been completed at the end of this year.
Harvest Housing Group is a not-for-profit registered housing provider with over 18,000 affordable, high quality homes throughout the North West, Cumbria and Staffordshire. It provides a full range of mainstream housing association activities including general needs, sheltered and supported housing, residential care and low-cost home ownership schemes, together with Extra Care and housing PFI projects. It also delivers a large variety of specialist housing and related services, including delivering a wide range of bespoke local and neighbourhood services to people with differing needs.