A joined-up approach to growth

In April 2017 Helm and Fold housing associations merged to form Radius Housing. The new social housing provider draws on a combined 80 years of expertise, knowledge and customer service excellence.

Radius manages over 12,000 homes in 60 towns across the North. A total of 23,000 homes are supported through Radius’s telecare and telehealth offering. A further 1,000 households are supported through floating support and the adaptations service, Staying Put. Over 1,000 staff deliver housing, care and support for families and singles, older people and those with complex needs.

Radius aims to make a positive difference by providing homes, support and care for people, building neighbourhoods and empowering communities. Their vision is to draw on the expertise and creativity of both legacy associations and their people; and become the most effective and efficient provider for local people in need, regardless of whether they live in a Radius home or one privately owned in the community.

The Fold/Helm merger was conceived in the face of an increasingly challenging environment for customers and housing providers. Welfare reform is already causing financial hardship for many tenants. The introduction of Universal Credit from September will impact on many more. Add to this the proposed Local Housing Allowance cap on benefits and the end of bedroom tax mitigation within two years. Many of the most vulnerable in society are facing a perfect storm. On top of our core housing and estates management offering we see an increasing demand for advice in the management of personal finances, employment matters, health and mental wellbeing and other areas outside our traditional areas of expertise. As the needs of customers change and expand, Radius will have the capacity within local communities to support more tenants to sustain their tenancies.

Both legacy associations were committed to growth and the development of more new homes in diverse neighbourhoods. However, rising land and construction costs combined with a projected increase in borrowing costs necessitated a new approach if new build aspirations of 500 homes per annum were to be maintained.

Radius’s financial capacity and scale will enable it to secure private monies on the most competitive terms. The new organisation is considering alternative sources of finance, including the debt markets, in an effort to replace European Investment Bank (EIB) monies likely to be withdrawn following Brexit.

Radius has plans to build more mixed developments in partnership with communities for social, affordable and private tenures. They want to expand their shared future housing schemes for people of mixed community backgrounds. They introduced the competitive design and build method of development and have been progressing a Joint Venture offering to attract new developers and landowners into the social and affordable housing sectors.

In recent years, Radius has been progressing the Visteon project through planning. The association has plans to develop around 250 social and affordable homes, a community facility, play and leisure space. In addition, Radius will engage a commercial partner to offer employment for up to 300 staff. This is in addition to the jobs involved in the construction phase of the overall project. Visteon is intended to be the first of many such regeneration projects offering homes, jobs and improved community facilities.

Radius is seeking to offer customers more choice. Starting with one of the most advanced ICT infrastructures in the social housing sector, they have plans to expand CRM, customer self-service and choice to existing and potential customers. The scale of the association will enable Radius to invest in new systems previously outside of the reach of Fold and Helm.

On the 29 June, Helm and Fold signed off on successful final business years for 2016/17 at a combined AGM. Chairpersons Liz Cuddy and Diana Fitzsimons of Helm and Fold respectively set out the achievements of the staff and boards in meeting the needs of their customers and working successfully towards merger. The new association with a turnover of £78 million and assets of just under £1 billion is well placed to achieve its mission of positively impacting on people’s lives and supporting local communities.

The new Chairperson of Radius Diana Fitzsimons confirmed at June’s special general meeting: “Radius brings together very talented staff and board members from two leading local housing associations. Through merger we believe we can future proof our existing services in the face of a hardening economic headwind. However, we see further hardship ahead for tenants as well as barriers to the development of new homes at current levels. We are confident that Radius has the capacity and proven creativity in its people to prevail.”

John McLean, Radius’s CEO adds: “We are a significant SME and social enterprise in Northern Ireland spending over £50 million each year in construction and maintenance services. We have plans to invest a further £125 million of private monies over the next five years in social, private and affordable homes. Our combined commercial and values driven ethos is attracting lenders from across the UK.”

Radius Housing

W: www.radiushousing.org

T: 0330 123 0888

E: info@radiushousing.org

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