Formally coming together – We’ve merged!
Monday 17th July 2017 marks an exciting new chapter for United Communities as we officially merge United Housing Association and Bristol Community Housing Foundation to become one unit, capable of building more homes, and stronger communities.
We have strong roots in our local communities, as one we can bring these communities together and united everyone under the same name. By coming together we will; make significant financial savings, reduce the amount of red tape it take to operate two organisations, continue to improve services and be able to build more affordable homes.
What tenants said…
Throughout 2017 we explored the possibility of merging, to legally become United Communities. In February and March we contacted all tenants to ask their opinion; we sent a letter and survey to every household, email survey to all those we have email contacts for and publicised the survey and drop in sessions through social media and our website.
We held drop in sessions in Eastville, St Pauls, Horfield, Lockleaze, Warmly and Swindon.
Responses from residents
Surveys returned by post 37 | Surveys completed online 11 | Total – 47 – 2.7% of tenants.
Break down of responses
41 said yes it was a sensible idea and don’t object
3 said no they don’t think it’s a good idea
4 said not sure at this stage.
Of those who said they were not in favour the issues were:
“The partnership was established to ‘share expertise’ – it has progressed to a full merger in spite of assurances to the contrary. The work to establish UHA will become history and in time forgotten as tenants and staff move on. UHA’s focus to house African-Caribbean men appears lost in the soup of general needs.”
“More details on pros and cons of joining together officially”
“Your overall quality of service has already gone down in these 4 years”
The positive comments included:
“If it saves you money and services are the same then its fine by me.”
“It makes commercial sense and is a natural progression”
“If you feel it does not affect my tenancy then no issues for me”
“Want to be informed when its complete but good luck”
The feedback gathered from residents and staff was presented to the Board and Shareholders in May 2017. In June the decision was taken by Board members and Shareholders to merge the two organisations.
From Monday 17th July 2017 all BCHF assets have been transferred to United Housing Association, then UHA has changed it’s name to United Communities.
Will merger affect my tenancy or rent?
The name of your landlord would formally change to United Communities but all other tenancy conditions, statutory rights and the rent you pay would not change.
Who you pay your rent to will change – so instead of BCHF or United HA it will be paid to United Communities. All direct debits will change automatically and if you are claiming Housing Benefit we will notify your benefit office.
We will not change the level of rent as we can only charge at a level set by the government and United Communities must continue to comply with these rules. If you are a leaseholder, it won’t affect your lease.
What’s in it for me as a tenant?
You may not see much of a change, aside from the change of name of your landlord to United Communities. You will have the same staff working for you, have the same office and website to refer to and we will keep the same policies and handbook. But by merging we can save more on our costs. We will also be able to build more homes through the efficiency savings from the merger.
Would you still deliver services locally and offer a personal service?
Yes, absolutely! United Communities is committed to providing services locally. We intend to remain in our office in Eastville, Bristol as this is local to the majority of our homes. It allows us to provide a great service and value for money. We also have a number of staff who are out and about in your community regularly.
Do I still have the opportunity to get involved as a tenant of the new organisation?
Yes – we remain committed to working with tenants to help shape and scrutinise our services. Join our United Voices – which is a group of involved residents. See our website at www.unitedcommunities.org.uk/getinvolved or contact Becky Whitmore on Becky@unitedcommunities.org.uk.
Will I still receive the same services as I do now?
Yes, we intend to keep the housing officer patches the same and we will also maintain our tenancy support services, our ‘Into Work’ offer and our Communities team. Our Repairs team will remain the same and you will report any repairs in exactly the same way as you do now.