When did it all begin?
Orwell Housing Association was formed in 1963 in Ipswich, employing no staff and managing a handful of properties. Today, Orwell manages approximately 3,200 properties of mixed tenure in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex, with a further 110 properties currently in development, and employs approximately 400 permanent staff with a further 100 relief/casual workers and 50 volunteers.
The Association occupies a refurbished Victorian building on London Road, Ipswich, as its Head Office and also has a branch office in Lowestoft to serve its tenants in the Waveney & Great Yarmouth areas.
Who makes the decisions?
Orwell Housing Association is overseen by a voluntary Board comprising fifteen members. The Association's services are regularly reviewed by a Tenant Scrutiny Panel comprised of tenant representatives.
The Executive Team consists of a Chief Executive and three directors across the service areas of:
- Development and Property Maintenance
- Housing Management, Support and Care
The Association is generally regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency, which ensures that its processes and practices comply with their requirements and that it is financially viable. The Association's support and care services are regulated by Supporting People and the Care Quality Commission, respectively.
Where does the money come from?
Orwell Housing is non-profit making and is only permitted to make a surplus which must be reinvested in the Association to carry out improvements to existing stock. Additionally, Orwell bids for funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to build and refurbish properties which increase the Association's housing portfolio. The Association is one of some 95 organisations which are Homes and Communities Agency partners for development. To put this into context, there are some 2,000 associations in the country.
Orwell's business and property portfolio
The majority of the Associations housing stock is general needs housing located in the Ipswich and Lowestoft town areas; however, in recent years the Association has become more diverse and now has properties in all districts within Suffolk, South Norfolk, North Essex and Cambridgeshire, and also manages (as well as owning the majority of) five sheltered housing schemes, nine very sheltered housing schemes, six projects supporting adults with learning difficulties and eight hostels/women's refuges.
Orwell is currently the largest supported housing provider in Suffolk and also owns 39 additional supported living schemes. The Association works in partnership with a number of different agencies to provide housing management, support and care services in a wide range of accommodation. The agencies we currently work with include: Dimensions, Anglia Care Trust, Break, Care UK, Evenbrook, Family Mosaic, Hertiage Care, Heywoods Grange, Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG), Julian Support, Mencap, Optua, Papworth Trust, Sense East, St John's Housing Trust, Stonham, Suffolk Social Care Services, The Benjamin Foundation and United Response.
The Association's current turnover is approximately £31m. The Profit and Loss Account and the Balance Sheet can be viewed in the Annual Report.
The Association leads a consortium of six housing associations collectively called e² (pronounced 'e squared'). The consortium comprises Orwell Housing Association, Havebury Housing Partnership, Saffron Housing Trust (formerly South Norfolk District Council), Freebridge Community Housing Trust (formerly Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council), Colchester Borough Homes (which is an arm's length management organisation of Colchester Borough Council) and Greenfields Community Housing based in Essex. Orwell provides development services for these organisations, with Orwell securing grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency both for itself and its partners.
Additionally, the organisations jointly purchase and deliver training of mutual interest to staff, board members and tenants and are moving to a wider joint procurement strategy as well as formal arrangements to share information.
Orwell Homes Limited
Orwell Homes Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Orwell Housing Association Limited.
SNAP (Suffolk Non Accommodation Based Partnership)
During November 2007 Orwell, together with the SNAP partners (see below) was successful in tendering for the provision of floating support services for people in Suffolk. Additionally, this service required a referral agency, and SNAP were also successful in being chosen as the provider.
Orwell chairs the partnership and the other members are: Anglia Care Trust (ACT), EPIC, Family Welfare Association, Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG) and Together: Working for Wellbeing.
The Association has an enviable track record of providing customer orientated services to tenants and service users. The most recent survey indicated that 84% of tenants were satisfied with the services Orwell provides. This rating puts Orwell in the top 25% of housing associations who use the National Housing Federation standard survey.
Orwell Housing Association is an Industrial & Provident Society, Registered No 16460R