Under proposed merger plans, Origin Housing would become a subsidiary of the 230,000-home group

Places for People (PfP), the 230,000-home housing association, and Origin Housing, which manages 7,000 homes in London and Hertfordshire, have announced they are in merger discussions.

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This comes after the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) placed Origin Housing’s under review last week due to concerns about the association’s compliance with the governance and financial viability standard. The RSH has not revealed the reasons behind the decision.

The chief executive of Origin, Carol Carter, said that Origin will be communicating details about the merger and consulting residents’ views over the coming weeks.

Greg Reed, chief executive of PfP, said that housing association giant would bring resource, scale and investment that would benefit Origin’s customers.

In 2022, Origin Housing posted turnover of £76m and a deficit of £21.3m due to one-off refinancing costs. Its operating surplus excluding one-off costs was £13.1m. It has not shared financial results for the year ending March 2023.

PfP delivered an operating surplus of £163.7m this year, compared to £209.5m in 2022. It is working to expand its housebuilding programme to deliver 5,000 homes per year by 2028.

Adrian Bohr, chief executive of regeneration and communities at PfP, told Housing Today earlier this week that around 25% to 30% of the 5,000 expected homes will be delivered using land secured through the group’s strategic land division.

The RSH last week announced it is investigating a matter which may impact Origin’s compliance with the governance and financial viability standard.

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Origin’s governance is currently graded at G1, the highest grade out of four, and its viability at V2. The association said the regulator’s decision to launch an investigation had come following an In Depth Assessment, and that it expected a result within six to eight weeks.

The regulator makes an announcement that a provider’s grading is under review when its compliant grade (G1 and G2 for governance, and V1 and V2 for viability), is being investigated in relation to an issue that may result in a downgrade to a non-compliant grade (G3 or G4 or V3 or V4).

Once the investigation has been completed, the outcome will be confirmed in a regulatory judgement.