Darwin famously said that survival isn’t dependent on strength, or on intelligence, but on the ability to adapt to change.
So, the fact that we’re launching our new housing group at a time of profound economic uncertainty is just indicative for me that it’s the right time to do things differently.
Brexit, an unstable economy and successive changes to Welfare Reform together with an increasingly diverse customer base mean we’re operating in a completely different environment.
And this calls for a new breed of housing group.
The old, traditional models of housing associations are less relevant today and are less able to deliver the real outcomes that are required. Large stock transfer organisations like Liverpool Mutual Homes, Helena Homes and Golden Gates Housing Trust were formed to serve a very distinct need at an equally distinct point in time. But times have changed. External pressures are different. The customer base has altered. To survive and thrive, registered providers need to recognise these changes, adapt and evolve to these circumstances whilst still remaining true to their mission.
That is what we’ve done at Torus. We don’t want to be in a position where our business is unable to deliver the services our current tenants and prospective tenants or home owners need so we’ve adapted, revisioned and restructured our business model to suit the new, more dynamic and demanding environment we’re operating in.
Instead of being a landlord with competing priorities, we’ve created four separate, fully accountable and entirely autonomous business areas to deliver what we believe are forward thinking imperatives around place, growth and people.
The first, Torus, is of course the group parent but also functions as a landlord providing housing solutions for a variety of needs, investing in enhanced services for elderly and vulnerable customers and working with partners to regenerate local areas and respond to local need.
The second, HMS, the largest UK contractor owned by a social housing organisation, repairs and maintains our 40,000 properties and builds the homes our local communities need. This high-performing contractor is a commercially astute business with the capability and capacity to deliver homes, maximise opportunities with external clients and generate sustainable income to fund our social activities.
The third, the newly launched Torus Foundation and the group’s charitable arm, has been established to formally deliver social initiatives that upskill residents and develop stronger, healthier, more economically resilient communities. The Foundation will be gifted £5m each year from HMS and will mobilise human and financial resources to coordinate, oversee and underpin lasting change.
Torus Developments, our fourth business, is responsible for growing our existing and future new build pipeline. When we amalgamated as a group our development commitment was 5,300 new homes by 2024. However, our newly acquired status as a Homes England Strategic Partner will swell that figure by 29%.
At the core of our diversified business, our social heart beats as strongly as it ever did and we will remain embedded in our heartland areas but our business brain ensures that our foundations are robust, financially secure and fully able to contribute to, engage in and deliver enhanced public value.
Our ultimate mission is one of growing stronger communities and our new corporate plan explains how we propose to do it.
This is a new breed of housing group. This is Torus.