A small housing association in Gloucestershire has announced it intends to transfer its housing stock to Cottsway Housing as part of a merger with the larger organisation.
Cirencester Housing, founded in 1949, owns and manages owns 176 homes, including 169 rented properties, six shared ownership homes and one leasehold, housing over 327 people.
At a meeting with shareholders earlier this month, it was agreed to transfer ownership and maintenance of these properties to Cottsway Housing, based in West Oxfordshire.
The transfer takes effect on 1 December 2023. Until then, Cirencester Housing will continue to be responsible for the homes and service provision.
Nicola Miller, Cirencester’s board chair, said: “The board, shareholders and staff members over the past 73 years have all been passionate about serving our customers, and we are proud of the role Cirencester Housing has played in their lives and the local communities we serve. However, we feel the time is right to make this move to ensure that we can secure the best future for our customers.
“We held a six-week consultation about this during the summer and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts on the proposals. This feedback was extremely helpful and enabled us to make the positive decision to proceed with the transfer. It has been a pleasure to have served our customers and we are confident that Cottsway is the right organisation for our customers.”
Housing associations are facing increasing regulatory requirements, and a “challenging” economic climate; both background factors cited in the decision.
Maureen Margrie, Cirencester Housing’s executive director corporate, said: “We’re a very small housing association with only five members of staff, and we’re extremely proud to have remained in a strong financial position, despite the nationwide challenges of the past few years. But this transfer is about taking control of the future for our customers – those we have and those who would like to live in a safe and low-cost home in their local community. This merger also offers our staff the opportunity to transfer to Cottsway’s workforce.
“Cottsway is a larger housing association, better equipped to take on the regulatory challenges ahead, while being able to continue to provide the best for our customers, both the standard of the homes they live in and services they receive. Cottsway will also be able to bring more, much-needed new affordable homes to the area with their dedicated future development programme.”
Cottsway has over 5,300 homes, housing over 12,000 people, and is West Oxfordshire’s largest affordable housing provider, with a growing number of homes in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, including Cirencester. Its offices are based in the town of Witney.
Richard Reynolds, Cottsway’s chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Cirencester Housing have chosen us for this transfer. We are very familiar with Cirencester as we already have 53 homes in the town, with more in the surrounding area. We are also already working to deliver more affordable homes there too, so this is an exciting opportunity for us.
“Cottsway is financially strong and is recognised as being well run supported by our G1/V1 rating from the regulator, with a proven performance when it comes to delivering services, as demonstrated by our high customer satisfaction rates.
“We see Cottsway as a partnership between customers, employees and key stakeholders, and I would like to assure Cirencester Housing’s customers that there will be no negative impact on the services they receive. In fact, we will offer improved additional or enhanced services wherever possible, including access to advice and support, grant funding and responsive customer services, and an opportunity for them to get involved and give feedback on the way we work.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming their customers on board officially on 1 December and will be working with Cirencester Housing to ensure a smooth transition.”
Image credit: 89stocker/Shutterstock
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