Jane Ashcroft CBE and Dr Stuart Burgess CBE with Anchor Hanover logo in the background
Blog 14/01/2019 Housing

Merging wasn’t easy, but it will allow us to do much more

Each week Inside Housing publishes the thoughts of industry leaders around the big issues that matter most to the housing world. In her latest blog, regular contributor Jane Ashcroft, Anchor Hanover's Chief Executive, discusses the potential impact of the recent merger between Anchor and Hanover.

I’m told that our merger was one of the easier ones... it didn’t feel like it!

Merging two organisations, each with half a century of history, is not easy.

Even when the two organisations concerned, Hanover and Anchor, have so many similarities.

The creation of Anchor Hanover, which was completed on 29 November, provides a hugely exciting opportunity for us to transform care and housing for older people.

In an ageing society, our housing, care and support is needed more than ever. Together we can provide a bigger range of housing and care options and build more new locations, including social rented, shared ownership and outright sale new homes.

All mergers are challenging, but the key thing that helped ours is the positive relationship between the two boards.

Scale means we can provide a stronger, more specialist focus on leasehold as well as rented housing.

It’s no coincidence then, that the values of the two legacy organisations were so similar – and so clearly lived and breathed by colleagues.

Bringing the values together early, to create a new set of shared values, helped communicate very clearly to colleagues that the merger really was a coming together of like-minded organisations.

Communication, and lots of it, was also crucial. Anchor had been using Workplace by Facebook for some time to enable colleagues to share views.

By making it available to all Anchor Hanover colleagues, we’ve been able to open up a conversation with colleagues across the new organisation – and 80% of former Hanover colleagues had joined by the end of the first week.

Creating one single organisation enables us to do more than we could apart – our scale means we can provide a stronger, more specialist focus on leasehold as well as rented housing.

As a bigger organisation, we’ll negotiate better contracts with suppliers and pool resources and expertise.

And we’ll explore fresh ideas built on a clear understanding of what people want, like effective technology that improves lives.

As a bigger organisation, we’ll negotiate better contracts with suppliers and pool resources and expertise.

This will drive great value for money for existing customers and allow us to invest in new services and innovate to meet future needs.

The merger comes at a time of turbulence in the sectors in which we work, particularly social care.

Funding issues, delays to the Social Care Green Paper and doubts over how the sector can future-proof itself to meet the needs of our ageing population have caused growing uncertainty.

As a larger organisation working across housing and care, we’re better protected against these challenges.

Operating in more than 90% of local authorities in England, we’ll have more influence in the communities we serve, influencing care and support locally, and working with local authorities, health providers and the voluntary sector. This will create fresh opportunities and enable us to be enthusiastic partners in health and well-being boards and NHS planning.

We’ll have more influence in the communities we serve, influencing care and support locally.

We can also have a greater role in shaping national policy and debates about ageing.

We’ll constantly lobby for the best policies for older people and work together with other organisations to help secure them. Plus, we’ll always ensure that the voices of people in later life are heard at the heart of the debate.

We also know that quality services start with quality people and, as a bigger organisation working across housing and care, colleagues will be able to develop their careers in a variety of ways.

To thrive we need people who are passionate about what we do, with a commitment to continually improve.

Because while reaching the completion stage was hard work, it is, of course, only the start for Anchor Hanover.

Jane Ashcroft
Chief Executive at Anchor Hanover

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