The housing associations join forces to become 81,000-home HA
The proposed merger between Sovereign Housing Association and Network Homes has been approved by the boards of both social housing providers.
The two housing associations have formally agreed to form Sovereign Network Group (SNG), with the merger due to take place on 1 October 2023.
Network Homes owns and manages over 21,000 homes predominantly in London and Hertfordshire, while Sovereign have almost 60,000 homes covering Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire, the West of England and the Isle of Wight.
Together, as SNG, they will be one of the largest housing associations in the country serving over 210,000 residents across London and the south of England.
Sovereign chief executive, Mark Washer, will become CEO of SNG, and Network Homes chief executive, Helen Evans, will become SNG’s Deputy CEO.
Washer commented: “Bringing these two great organisations together will enable us to invest in creating more homes, and better homes for our current and future customers. Combined, we will be a leader in delivering sustainable and affordable housing, including for social rent, as well as investment in communities.
“We are already seeing the potential for our complementary skills and experience to help us deliver better for each of our customers, and the future is hugely exciting.”
The proposed merger, which was first announced in March 2023, now has board-approval from both HAs following due diligence, tenant consultation and engagement activities with colleagues.
Helen Evans said: “I’m pleased we now have the green light to pursue this exciting new chapter for both organisations as we join together as one organisation.
“As deputy chief executive, I will be overseeing the transition and significant work is now underway to ensure we will have the right structures, systems, and processes to deliver for customers from 1 October onwards. I’m looking forward to working with Mark, our new Executive Board and colleagues in ensuring the new organisation is a success.”
SNG plans to invest around £8.5 billion in existing and new homes over the next ten years, with an annual development programme of up to 2,500 homes a year alongside a retrofit strategy.
The new organisation will establish a new community foundation which will invest £100m over ten years to directly support residents and communities. It will also adopt Sovereign’s Homes and Place sustainability and wellbeing standard that was co-created with customers.
Network Homes (renamed Sovereign Network Homes) will initially join as a subsidiary of SNG before a transfer of engagements which is expected to take place in April 2025.
Once joined, the housing associations will have a portfolio of over 82,000 homes
Sovereign Housing and Network Homes have announced their intention to merge to form one of the largest housing associations in the UK.
The new organisation will be called Sovereign Network Group and brings together Network Homes, who owns and manages over 21,000 homes predominantly in London and Hertfordshire, and Sovereign Housing with almost 60,000 homes covering Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire, the West of England and the Isle of Wight.
The target date for the completion of the merger is 1 October 2023. Subject to a formal appointment process, it is expected that Mark Washer, CEO at Sovereign will become the Chief Executive and Helen Evans, currently CEO of Network Homes, will become Deputy Chief Executive.
Sovereign Chair Paul Massara will become Chair of Sovereign Network Group and interim Chair at Network Homes, Jon Gooding, will become Deputy Chair.
Sovereign Network Group will have an annual income of over £830m in 2024-25 and will invest £9.2bn over the next ten years, building 25,000 new homes – almost 4,000 more than in current plans, as well as regenerating estates and improving the quality of existing homes. They have also pledged to establish a new Community Foundation to invest £100m in communities over a ten-year period.
Under the proposals, the new organisation will initially take the form of a group structure with Sovereign being the parent (renamed Sovereign Network Group) and Network Homes the subsidiary (renamed Sovereign Network Homes), with a view to full amalgamation happening in April 2025.
Sovereign CEO Mark Washer said of the merger: “This is a really exciting opportunity for both Sovereign and Network Homes. Together we can build more homes and invest more in the homes we own. As we merge, we will learn from one another, bringing the best from each organisation.
“As a housing association with over 80,000 homes and a really strong financial profile we will be able to deliver more for all of our customers.
“We want to merge because we share the same vision: providing our current and future customers with more, better quality homes in thriving communities, to offer sector-leading services, and create a real catalyst for positive change.
“The headwinds we face in housing now – and there are more coming – make it even more urgent that we should be bold and innovative. Sovereign Network will be well-placed to embrace that change and shape the future of the sector.
“Over the last few months, as I’ve got to know Helen and her team, I can see this is really good fit – two organisations which are passionate about delivering sector-leading services in thriving communities.”
Network Homes CEO Helen Evans added: “This is the right time for this merger, and the right merger for both Network Homes and Sovereign. Together, our size and resilience as an organisation will increase our ability to invest and to build new, affordable homes.
“Our plans for a new Community Foundation, spending £100m over the next ten years will ringfence our commitment to create places and communities where people can take control and improve their lives. And our people will also benefit, with new opportunities for learning and development.
“This is an important new chapter for Network Homes and I know that it will deliver benefits to residents, our people and help us to better fulfil our mission to provide safe, secure and affordable homes for as many people as possible.”