Why are Silva Homes and Abri considering joining together?
Both organisations are charitable, registered providers of social housing. Both organisations feel that they share the same objectives and culture and believe that joining together will enable the combined organisation to invest more in existing homes and neighbourhoods, develop more new homes in the area and make improvements to the services you receive.
Should the proposals go ahead, there would be a new regional approach within Abri. Silva Homes customers would be part of the new south east region. There would be a regional managing director who will lead on service delivery and a regional board which will be accountable to customers in the region. There would also be a new regional customer panel.
There would also be an annual £1.5 million customer dividend that comes from the savings we would make by bringing the two organisations together. This would be invested in homes and services in the region and would be influenced by customer priorities.
The consultation with Silva customers closed on 1 May 2023 and we received 178 responses which is a 2.3% response rate. The feedback was mixed, with some customers raising concerns over joining a large organisation and others sharing our optimism that this partnership and the improvements to services would be a positive step forward.
We understand that some customers had concerns over rent increases, and we would like to reassure all customers that this partnership will not impact on rents as Abri are regulated in the same way as Silva and must comply with the regulator’s directions on rent increases.
Some customers were concerned that there may be longer wait times for repairs. Again, we would like to reassure customers that the partnership is expected to have a positive impact on repairs – both waiting times and our ability to fix things first time. We are confident that the partnership would help us improve other areas of customer service too.
Your top priorities
Reduce the time taken to get repairs done
Reduce anti-social behaviour
Address damp and mould
Improve parking, roads, pavements.
What did we do with your feedback?
We responded to all customers who responded to the survey explaining how their feedback would be used and to respond to their questions.
We also asked the Silva customer partnership board to review the feedback we received. They confirmed that the conclusions we had reached were fair and felt that we should look to gather more feedback if the partnership goes ahead to ensure we understand customers’ priorities. They also indicated their support for the proposed partnership with Abri.
What is happening next?
A large amount of work has gone on to get into the detail of this partnership and how it would work, should it go ahead. This is important as we want to make a positive impact for customers from day one.
The feedback from this consultation has been considered by both boards and it has helped to shape the business case being proposed for the final decision to be made.
Where customers shared concerns, these have been considered. Importantly the Silva board did not feel that the response to the consultation presented any barrier to proceeding with the partnership with Abri. It felt that concerns highlighted by customers within the feedback could be overcome and has ensured that this was strengthened in the final business case. The top customer priorities have also been worked into the initial plans for where the customer dividend would start to be invested from day one.
The Silva and Abri boards will be making their decisions very soon. If the partnership is approved there will be no immediate changes for customers. We will keep you informed as things progress.