If you are a Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH) tenant or leaseholder you will have recently received the December residents’ newsletter. The newsletter contained an article on the proposal to change THCH’s corporate status from a company limited by guarantee to a Community Benefit Society (CBS). Enclosed with the newsletter was a flyer that provided more information on the proposal and a reply slip for any questions or comments. We have put together the following questions and answers in case you require further information.
We welcome your feedback and opinions. If you have any questions or comments about the proposal, you can either email them to CBS@thch.org.uk or write to Philip Sullivan, Chief Executive at THCH’s office (285 Commercial Road, Stepney, London E1 2PS) with any comments or questions to be received by 24 January 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is THCH’s Current Corporate Status?
THCH is a company limited by guarantee, a Registered Charity with the Charity Commission and a registered provider of social housing with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
What is a CBS?
The purpose of a CBS is to serve the interests of the wider community. Its assets and any surplus that it makes can only be used for the benefit of the community. A CBS is a special type of not-for-profit organisation registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and specifically formed to benefit the community.
Why does THCH want to convert to a CBS?
The reason this change is being proposed is to ensure THCH has the flexibility to manage its business efficiently. Changes arising from the Housing and Planning Act 2016 mean that a number of the regulatory requirements for registered providers, like THCH, have now been removed. A knock on effect of this change is that registered charitable companies like THCH will fall into a more complicated regulatory regime with the Charity Commission, which provides no additional protection to the services that we provide you as tenants. We want to continue to act efficiently and increase value for money, with tenants best interests continuing at the forefront of THCH’s priorities. Converting to a CBS will allow us to continue to do this.
We will be in a better position to meet the challenges of our operating environment. We will also be able to continue to reinvest our profits back into our key objectives of working in Tower Hamlets to unlock our potential and provide services and new homes for local residents.
Will THCH Still be a Charity?
If we convert to a CBS we will retain our charitable status and maintain our objectives. We will, however, be an exempt charity and be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority instead of the Charity Commission. We will also continue to be regulated by the HCA who would continue to have a role in ensuring tenants are protected and have opportunities to be involved in the management of their housing.
Are any other Housing Associations CBS’s?
Yes – most housing associations are now CBSs because of the nature of the work they carry out, and many others, like THCH who are not, are considering converting.
If THCH converts to a CBS will it affect my tenancy, rent or service charge?
THCH becoming a CBS would not affect any of your rights under your tenancy agreement or lease, and any statutory rights that you may have, such as the preserved right to buy or right to acquire, would not be affected.
Qualifying leaseholders would also retain the statutory right to claim an extension to their leases or to collectively purchase the freehold to their building.
There would be no changes to the type of services we offer as a result of this proposal, and these would be provided by the same people who provide them now. Neither would this proposal affect your rent, or any services charges that you may pay.
When will the conversion take place?
We expect to be making our decisions in relation to this proposal in late January/February 2018. If we go ahead with the conversion, this would likely take place in Spring 2018.
Why are we telling you about these proposed changes?
In accordance with our transparency requirements with the HCA, we must keep our tenants informed of changes we make to our business. Keeping leaseholders informed of changes to our business also falls within our commitment to transparency.
How can I have my say?
We are providing the opportunity for tenants and leaseholders to let us have comments and feedback on the proposal by 24 January 2018. We will consider the feedback before a decision is made on whether or not to approve the change at a Board meeting and then a Special Meeting of the Members of THCH.