GreenSquare is considering merging with another housing association called Accord.
We are sharing information about this and what it means for customers on this page – and, if you are a customer, would like to hear your views.
Please read the overview of the proposal and 'your questions answered' before completing the feedback form at the bottom of this page by 25 September 2020.
Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to give us feedback. Based on what has been submitted so far, we have updated our ‘frequently asked questions’ below, with the feedback grouped into themes. We hope that others who might have had similar questions will also benefit from these updates.
Joining up with another like-minded housing association of a similar size would mean bringing together resources, which would release money for more investment in homes and services.
We think that the proposed merger would mean that we could:
The proposal is that GreenSquare would merge with Accord by what is called a ‘transfer of engagements’. For tenants and shared owners of GreenSquare Group Ltd and GreenSquare Community Housing this would mean a change of landlord.
But the merger would not have any other effect on your tenancy or lease. Your legal rights and the terms and conditions of your tenancy or lease would not change. And you would continue to have the local housing officers, and other staff you know and recognise, supporting you and working locally in your area.
We know you might worry that a larger housing association would mean services would become centralised and impersonal. But our vision is actually the opposite of this. We want to use the extra resources resulting from the merger (or 'economies of scale') to expand and improve local delivery of services, across a larger operating area. So that bigger really would mean better.
More detailed information is included in the ‘Your questions answered’ section below. Please take the time to read this so that you understand more about what is being proposed before sending us your feedback.
The (extended) consultation period lasts until 25 September 2020; please send your feedback by then so that it can be taken into account.
Your feedback will be shared with the GreenSquare and Accord Boards and they will take it into account before deciding whether to proceed with the merger. Shareholding members of GreenSquare, which include customers, will also need to vote to support the merger before it can go ahead.
We’ll share news about what the Board decides later in the year and let you know then what will happen next.
Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to give us feedback. Based on what has been submitted so far, the feedback can be grouped into themes. Short responses to these new questions are given, with further information provided in the originally-supplied Q&As below.
Is this a money-making exercise?
We are a not-for-profit organisation, which means that unlike commercial businesses, we do not make profits for owners. All of the money we receive and generate is used to deliver services and to keep things running. We’re constantly looking for ways that we can make our money go further so we can deliver more for you with the resources we have.
Is GreenSquare in financial trouble?
GreenSquare is financially strong; in fact, we recently announced that we have successfully obtained new funding from lenders to support us in delivering our corporate plan. (Read more here.)
Will my rent/service charge increase?
The proposed merger won’t affect your rent or service charge or how you pay.
Will my tenancy rights and conditions stay the same?
Yes. Your tenancy rights and conditions will remain exactly the same. Your tenancies will not become less secure.
Will Westlea customers have a new landlord?
For tenants and shared owners living in Wiltshire (with Westlea as their landlord), there would be no change of landlord.
Are you also going to be putting resources into existing homes?
Yes. We absolutely plan to invest more in existing homes, and this is a commitment we make in our corporate plan, which was published in September 2019. One of the ways we will do this is by becoming more efficient in the way we operate. This will free up resources to invest in existing homes and regeneration activities and help us to build much-needed new homes. We believe that by combining resources with Accord, both organisations would benefit, meaning customers will too.
The original questions and answers sent to all customers in August are as follows:
How would the merger happen?
The proposal is that GreenSquare Group Ltd and GreenSquare Community Housing would merge with Accord by what is called a ‘transfer of engagements’. This is when a housing association transfers all of its assets and liabilities (including their properties, tenancies and leases) into another housing association. It is an effective and relatively straightforward way of merging housing associations. GreenSquare and Accord together would create a larger and stronger organisation operating with a new name. At the same time, Westlea Housing Association Ltd would become a subsidiary of the new merged organisation – in exactly the same way as it is currently a subsidiary of GreenSquare.
Would this affect my tenancy or lease?
For tenants and shared owners of GreenSquare Group Ltd and GreenSquare Community Housing this would mean a change of landlord with you becoming tenants/shared owners of Accord – although the combined organisation would have a new name. This change would not have any other effect on your tenancy or lease; your legal rights and the terms and conditions of your tenancy or lease would remain unchanged. For tenants and shared owners of Westlea, there would be no change of landlord and Westlea would continue to exist as a separate organisation but under the umbrella of the combined organisation rather than GreenSquare.
Would my rent or service charge be affected?
No, the proposed merger won’t affect your rent or service charge or how you pay. The charges you pay would continue to be reviewed every year, as they are at the moment, in line with your current tenancy agreement or lease.
What about the right to buy?
If you already have the right to buy, you would not lose the right and you will continue to be able to exercise the right in the same way as before.
Would my repairs, grounds maintenance or cleaning contractors change?
There are no immediate plans to make changes to any of our other contractors – as contracts come up for renewal we’ll review what’s best for all customers.
Will I have the same contacts – my Housing Officer, for example?
Yes, although the new combined organisation will have a new name, services will continue to be delivered in the same way by the same people – and you’ll continue to get in touch with us as you do at the moment, by phone, by email or via the website.
For us, this isn’t about merging with just any housing association. We are in discussions with Accord because we believe that they share the same values and ambitions for expanding and enhancing locally-focused services to customers. We believe this merger of equals would create a stronger and more resilient organisation that’s more ‘future-proof’ and ready to deal with future challenges. Put simply, we believe we could do more together – and do it better – than we could on our own.
The Accord and GreenSquare operating areas link together geographically (Midlands, through to Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, across into Herefordshire and Wales and south to Wiltshire). Customers of the new organisation would be able to do mutual exchanges and transfers as you do now, with access to homes and services within this expanded area.
Tell me more about Accord.
Accord is one of the largest housing and social care organisations in the Midlands and a similar size to GreenSquare; it provides 13,000 affordable homes and supports around 80,000 people with health and social care. The group's headquarters are in West Bromwich. The group started in the West Midlands before expanding into Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and now down into Oxfordshire. Find out more here.
Will your offices be closed down?
No, there are no immediate plans to change offices. GreenSquare will retain its existing offices and Accord will keep its offices. In future we would explore the option of opening local 'hubs' as part of our extra investment in local community-focused services.
Why would the merger mean more investment in local communities?
The larger organisation would have more resources – and increased numbers of homes in places where our current operating areas meet, including Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. This would make it possible for us to deliver new and improved services for all, including in localities where this hasn’t always been feasible.
Are there any disadvantages to the proposal?
We have looked carefully at the consequences of this proposal and through a process known as ‘due diligence’ we will ensure that the merger will be of no detriment to GreenSquare and its customers. One short-term disadvantage is the amount of time and resources required to achieve the merger and align the systems and people from both organisations, but this will result in the long-term benefits outlined above. Other than that, we have concluded that the proposal makes good business sense.
What are the costs associated with the merger?
Going ahead with the merger will inevitably involve staff time and external advisors’ costs in the short term. Customers will bear none of the costs of the merger which will be absorbed by the new organisation – and the savings made in the longer term will mean we are able to improve, and add to, the services customers benefit from.
How will customers be able to influence the way the new organisation operates?
We are committed to providing ways for you to get involved and help us improve our services. We are keen to hear what you think, what’s important and what we can do better. That won’t change if the merger goes ahead. Although we don’t yet know what channels or groups there might be, our commitment to you having opportunities to influence things remains. We will work with our current customer groups to make sure that your voice will continue to be heard.