At the heart of First Ark Group’s business was a 13,500 property housing association. Committed to social purpose on a wider scale, the North West group had diversified into a range of commercial, development and community support services. But, in diversifying, the group failed to secure its social housing role and was found non-compliant by the regulator.
With six separate boards, numerous committees and a large number of non-executives, it was clear that the group had become unnecessarily complex and lost sight of its core business. It was time to simplify.
A streamlined structure
We were asked by incoming CEO, Leann Hearne, to review the group’s options as part of a rebrand to Livv Housing Group. We helped them deliver a streamlined structure as a single registered provider parent company with a focus on delivering its core role and we closed down surplus group companies.
As well as drafting the new rules, we revised the intra-group agreement and services arrangements and oversaw the refresh of board memberships. As part of the transition, we helped rationalise the number of non-exec roles and negotiate with the trade unions responsible for some 550 employees.
By being clear and straightforward at every step we were able to reassure people that this would help them deliver the best outcome for their tenants - the community that depend on them for high-quality social housing.
Finally, we supported the Group with tenant and contractor notifications before the successful launch on 1 April 2020 as Livv Housing Group - just in time to meet the increased challenges of Covid-19 and the national lockdown.
Looking to the future
The rebrand also saw the launch of a new corporate plan in April. This involves developing 400 homes annually over the next three years, with around 85% expected to be affordable rent.
By streamlining the business, Livv were able to reassure the lenders providing £210 million of funding on the group’s ability to deliver their commitments. And in October 2020, the regulator upgraded the group’s compliance rating which is key for securing further grant funding for Livv’s development programme.
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