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Believe Housing is five years old this week

Apr 4, 2024 | Local News

One of the largest housing associations in the North East of England is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

In 2019, believe housing was launched with a vision of delivering “life without barriers” for customers, communities and colleagues.

It was established through the coming together of three landlords which in 2015, under the umbrella of County Durham Housing Group, took over the ownership and management of 18,000 homes from Durham County Council.

Chief Executive Alan Smith says: “We are really proud of our work and the impact we have had on individual lives and the region in that time.

“But we look forward, we want to continue to evolve and develop, to grow and reform our offer to customers.”

In its first five years, believe housing has spent £93m improving homes and £11.4m on home energy improvements.

It has helped customers access £6.56m in unclaimed welfare benefits and supported 429 people into training or employment.

And it has also built more than 524 homes as believe housing, as it nears 1,000 new build homes delivered in response to local housing need since stock transfer.

Alan has been with the organisation from its earliest days and has spent almost 40 years working for organisations that provide social housing.

A year ago, when he became Chief Executive, he went “back to the floor” to experience firsthand the roles more than 600 staff play in delivering healthy homes and communities.

He said: “The greatest thing I learned … there is passion everywhere I go at believe housing.

“From customer-facing to back-office services, everyone wanted to showcase their work because they are proud of the part that they play in providing homes and services to our 22,000plus customers.”

Alan witnessed extraordinary effort and consideration as colleagues supported customers, from offering urgent support in times of crisis to advice on money, bills and benefits and help with jobs, skills and training.

With a £74m turnover and as a large employer and contributor to the supply chain, believe housing is an important business in the region.

Much of its spending goes on maintaining and updating homes and a significant aspect of this work is making homes more energy efficient, which has been aided by millions of pounds from the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Out in communities, Alan saw colleagues helping customers at home and keeping estates tidy. And he saw how new build schemes are providing high quality, energy efficient homes which, alongside investment in existing homes, positively impact on places across the region.

Alan’s first year as Chief Executive has included some significant achievements for believe housing.

Following an In-Depth Assessment by the Regulator of Social Housing, it retained its G1 / V2 governance and financial viability ratings.

And it was again recognised as an outstanding employer with a 2-star accreditation from Best Companies.

Looking to the future, Alan says believe housing’s work with partners remains paramount so it can continue to improve its offer to customers and colleagues.

Alongside this, the National Housing Federation leads sector calls for a long-term plan from the next Government to fix the housing crisis.

“As a sector we are facing challenges, extra regulations, a lack of clear Government policy, the cost of maintaining homes, and challenges delivering new ones.

“We need to build on existing strong and valued relationships, like with our local authority partner Durham County Council.

“Building strong relationships with our supply chain has proved invaluable in dealing with delivery and economic challenges.

“As part of the North East Housing Partnership, we need to build similar relationships with the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority and the incoming Mayor.

“And with a general election on the horizon, it has never been a more important time to work well with partners.”