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PlaceShapers' response to Home Group's call for 'fewer, larger and better' housing associations

In response to Home Group's call yesterday for consolidation in the sector the PlaceShapers Group, which represents 83 community-based housing associations owning more than half a million homes and providing services to more than a million people, has issued this statement.

Tony Stacey, chair of the PlaceShapers Group, said: "We fundamentally disagree with the idea of fewer, larger and better organisations as a way forward for this sector. I thought that the evidence had knocked this one on the head, and it amazes me that a statement like this can be issued that flies in the face of all the facts. I had expected that the salutary lesson from the Netherlands where the largest association, Vestia, went bust would have made us all stop and think before issuing further calls claiming that "biggest is best."

He added: "Research from the Chartered Institute of Housing, Homes and Communications Agency and National Housing Federation has shown time and time again that bigger does not make for a more efficient or effective housing association. And when it comes to funding no significant difference has been found between larger and smaller organisations, more that this is driven by risk and geographical area.

"The housebuilding market is not working currently and PlaceShapers' long-term commitment to our local neighbourhoods means we will not turn our back on the need to build more - however, difficult this might be. This needs creative solutions, and PlaceShapers excel at this.

"PlaceShaper members offer strong local accountability and dynamic participation to ensure that the value of independent and innovative housing associations is recognised. Our aim is to further promote this point of difference and to stand united on this front."

Here's what some other PlaceShapers' Steering Group members had to say

Adam Ronaldson, chief executive of Saffron Housing, said: "Borrowing is only part of the equation which makes organisations effective. It is not the start and end of the game."

Angela Lockwood, chief executive of North Star Housing Group, said: "Analysis of both HouseMark and the Tenant Services Authority data did not provide any statistical evidence of economies of scale to be achieved through size.

"From a point of quality you only have to look at the performance indicators and levels of tenant satisfaction for some of the largest organisations to see that bigger doesn't always mean better."

Bob Taylor, chief executive of Knowsley Housing Trust, said: "PlaceShapers are true innovators of localism in action. We stand for all things local - local economy, local social value and growth, local innovation and enterprise, local planning and local engagement - to create stronger communities and bigger overall outcomes."

Paul Doe, chief executive of Shepherds Bush Housing Group, said: "The evidence shows that the biggest are not always the best innovators. You only need to look at who wins the awards in business, housing, and the third sector. It's the nimble ideas driven by housing associations that develop the cutting edge ideas that tenants and communities appreciate."

Some facts and figures on why we believe local is best

  • When comes to investment the PlaceShapers' offer is that what gets invested locally, stays locally

  • Smaller housing associations have track records in delivering new homes through innovative approaches. Associations like Shepherds Bush Housing Group, Octavia Housing and Origin Housing in London pool resources on developing and have delivered 2,600 homes since 2005 with plans for a further 1,150 by 2051. They can do this through their flexibility and knowledge of local housing need

  • The 'Does size matter' CIH document 2012, concluded "there is very little evidence that size, better quality services and lower costs are related, with significant variations in costs between associations.....scale alone does not automatically provide efficiency"

  • The NHF's neighbourhood audit data for 2011 showed how smaller organisations are often way out in front when it comes to investment spend per property. A total of 46 PlaceShapers (out of the now 83 members) took part in the most recent audit. This revealed a total investment of more than £80 million benefitting more than a million people and over 900,000 homes

Member examples:

  • Shepherds Bush Housing Group invested £2.8m in local services benefiting 3,295 people and 4,704 homes

  • Origin invested more than £700,000 benefitting 2,310 people and 712 homes

  • South Yorkshire Housing Association invested £1.8m benefitting 575 people and 2,733 homes

  • Poplar HARCA invested a staggering £10m benefitting 173,079 people and 90,028 homes

To find out more about PlaceShapers visit or follow them on Twitter @placeshapers

Notes to editor

PlaceShapers' members stand for..

  • Customer focus - we empower residents to influence and shape services

  • Localism - we care about the people and places where we work and always deliver above and beyond the basic provision of housing

  • Collaboration - we work with local authorities and other bodies to improve and shape places

  • Diversity - we believe in and deliver the strengths and benefits of an independent and diverse housing sector

  • Value for money - we are non-profit-making and consistently deliver high quality landlord services and much more

Press contact: Kelly Field, The Bridge Group 07771 928369,

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