Case study: Greater Manchester Housing Providers

Greater Manchester Housing Providers has around 28 members, including a range of differently-sized organisations, LSVTs, housing associations and ALMOs, and has been working in a joint venture with Greater Manchester Combined Authority since 2010.

How many and what sort of homes are being delivered?

Greater Manchester Housing Providers has built more than 8,000 new homes in the last five years and has an ambition to deliver 16,000 over the next five.

Development figures for 2018/19 as a partnership have been 2,841 planning consents, 2,145 starts on site and 1,920 completions. It is hoped that the joint venture will contribute 500 homes a year to this total.

How did the partnership get started?

Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) started through a conversation between the chief executive at one of the providers, Bolton at Home and the Director of Housing at Manchester.

Anticipating what may come in devolution terms, they felt that it would be good to try and get a housing provider group together for Greater Manchester. The success of this partnership laid the ground work for the joint venture organisation which has now emerged,

The partnership in detail

Established as a group in 2010, GMHP are substantial investors in the Greater Manchester community. In recent years, members of the group have been delivering around 40% of new homes across Greater Manchester. 

GMHP jointly commission work with the Mayor and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and have representation on all the relevant boards within the combined authority. In addition to development, the partnership operates across a full range of themes including social investment, access to housing, homelessness, health and social care, and others.

Each topic has a lead chief executive. There are Terms of Reference and an annual fee that allow the partnership to do its work, and pay for the group's research and staff time (the partnership has a post embedded in the combined authority).

The joint venture will act as an LLP with a £3m investment from each housing association as well as a £2m contribution from the combined authority in return for a 20% stake in the joint venture. The associations will own the remaining 80%.

The partnership will be a commercial developer, buying land and securing planning permission to build and sell land on the open market.

Affordable housing built through s106 will be handed over to registered providers. Any profits will be reinvested or distributed among the housing associations. The joint venture is working on its first two sites now.

What have been the greatest benefits and what challenges has the group experienced along the way?

None of the joint work would have been possible without building trust between both parties. The partnership has required people to focus on the collective good, rather than just their narrow organisational interest, and most importantly focus on giving communities a stake in devolution.

GMHP benefitted from having a full Greater Manchester coverage, and a willingness to invest resources in helping the combined authority meet its objectives. The housing associations had to be honest, understand the politics of the area, negotiate and be prepared to compromise.

What would be the group's message to other housing associations and local authorities looking to do something similar?

Look for what needs doing, look for things you do that are common, and don’t necessarily start with development. Build trust and focus on some easy wins to build that trust.

Be inclusive and make sure you are part of solving the problems, not just trying to benefit your business plan.