We have now brought together – or ‘amalgamated’ – Oxford Citizens Housing Association Limited (OCHA), Oxbode Housing Association Limited and GreenSquare Group Limited, to create just one organisation from 7 October 2016.
We have done this to:
create a simpler structure that is less confusing and more efficient;
have greater financial capacity to do more; and
be stronger and fit for the future.
What's now happened is different to the proposal we made in 2014 in that it did not Westlea Housing Association (because of the loan arrangements in place for that organisation).
We consulted customers in 2014 and again in 2016 to find out your views on that proposal to amalgamate, and the majority of you who responded were positive. You were already used to the GreenSquare name and branding in place; liked the idea of being in one group; and agreed that it was a good idea to build more homes and make us stronger and future proof.
We've also discussed the proposals with shareholders of the housing associations. They voted in favour of full amalgamation back in 2014 and in favour of partial amalgamation (without Westlea) earlier in 2016.
From 7 October 2016, the only change for customers is that if, before that date, the name of your landlord was Oxford Citizens Housing Association Limited or Oxbode Housing Association Limited, it has changed to GreenSquare Group Limited. This will not affect your tenancy in any other way.
We wanted to make the internal arrangements within the Group much simpler. This amalgamation meant that we could reduce the number of different organisations from five to three. GreenSquare Group, OCHA and Oxbode have become one organisation called GreenSquare Group Limited. Westlea Housing Association (trading as 'GreenSquare') and GreenSquare Community Housing remain as separate organisations.
This is a technical change to the name of your landlord, and you won’t see any changes on a day to day basis. We are
We have made this change to make our organisation simpler and cheaper to run.
It also allows us to borrow more money than we can if we stay as three separate organisations. This additional money can be used to support the great work we do for our communities, and to make sure we can build new homes and services for you and our future customers. The new landlord, GreenSquare Group Limited, can borrow a further £5.8 million which would enable us to build 40 additional new homes.
It also makes us fit for the future making sure we are as efficient and effective as we can be. This means we are best placed to deal with the challenges we might face in the future.
So why hasn’t Westlea amalgamated too?
We need the permission of our lenders (banks and building societies) to amalgamate. As part of that permission, the lenders charge us a fee for giving that consent. They also look to change the terms and conditions of those loans in line with the today’s market (such as changing the rate of interest charged on those loans).
Because we got such good terms and conditions for the Westlea loans when we took them out, if we were to accept the new terms and conditions the costs would be much higher (increased interest payments). This would mean less money for us to spend on services and new homes. That’s not in the best interests of Westlea and its customers!
Westlea will therefore remain as a member of the group rather than being amalgamated for now and will continue to trade as GreenSquare as it has been doing since 2012.
So why isn’t GreenSquare Community Housing (GCH) amalgamating too?
We have never intended to amalgamate GCH. Its borrowing arrangements means that it must remain as a separate organisation within the Group. Like Westlea, it will continue to trade as GreenSquare.