2015 was a significant year for the housing sector with the reduction of social housing rents by 1% for each of the next four years and the introduction of the Voluntary Right to Buy. In addition, at Crown Simmons our contract to manage a number of properties in London for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) ends later this year.
We have planned for the end of the end of the MOPAC contract since merging with Crown in 2014, but the requirement to reduce rents by 1% for four years means a reduction of around 14% in anticipated income over this period. As a small housing association we cannot afford to lose this income without making major changes to our business to ensure that we continue to provide excellent services and meet our Mission to provide new homes.
Like all housing associations, the Board of Crown Simmons has had to look very closely at the Business Plan in order to ensure that we can meet our commitments and remain financially viable. Later this month the Board will be asked approve a new Business Plan that incorporates growth in the form of new affordable housing – around 150 additional homes – over the next 5 years. This includes plans to redevelop our old office at Rosemary House in Esher (11 new apartments) and to carry out a partial redevelopment of our sheltered housing scheme Mole Abbey in West Molesey. Both developments will provide much needed new affordable housing over the next couple of years, subject to planning permission.
Regrettably, we have had to make a number of very difficult decisions in view of the anticipated reduction in our income over the next four years. Following consultation with our staff team earlier this year we are introducing a new staff structure from 1 May 2016 as we needed to make significant savings to reduce our costs.
As a consequence of this restructure some of the staff that you have been dealing with over the last few years have left the organisation – all having given fantastic service to the organisation over the last few years. We wish them all well for the future.
Whilst it is very sad to see colleagues leave, I am very confident that the new arrangements we will be putting in place over the next few weeks will see our organisation go from strength to strength.