Mergers and acquisitions in social housing
The social housing sector is currently experiencing a lot of M&A activity throughout the UK. As housing providers prepare for changes ahead, a range of contract opportunities are being created in order to allow the transition process to go smoothly. We spoke to Chris McKinney to find out about the roles available and get more detail as to what this means for the sector.
Mergers and acquisitions within the industry
Small to medium sized housing providers have historically made up a large portion of the social housing sector. Now, in an effort to reduce operational costs and re-distribute this money into the development of new homes, the government are enforcing mergers and acquisitions. This is leading to a rise in larger sized associations. While this makes logical sense, this is a sensitive issue within the sector, as many housing associations have a large community feel.
Chris explains, “Local housing associations come with a lot of history and are embedded into communities, therefore closures on the horizon have to be dealt with sensitively. At Real Public Sector, we’re working closely with housing providers to ensure all changeovers are handled as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
Recruitment surrounding M&A activity
The current climate within the sector is driving a breadth of contract employment opportunities. As providers prepare to merge, a range of professionals are needed to ensure processes are implemented efficiently and requirements are split across two main disciplines. According to Chris, “This is a candidate driven market as contractors are needed to come in and work on projects that support integration and implementation. Professionals to handle both operations support and technical systems are in high demand.”
From a technical perspective, contractors will be needed to merge technical business systems for new housing providers. These organisations are using M&A as an opportunity to upgrade their systems and implement more efficient programmes.
Contractors within the sector are in high demand as candidates will be required to have knowledge of niche, housing management systems. In order to have gained this experience, they’ll likely need to come from a social housing background. Aareon QL, Northgate, Capita OpenHousing, Orchard and Civica are the main systems used on the market. According to Chris, “These candidates are extremely hard to find and if you have knowledge of these niche systems, you’ll be extremely sought after within the sector.”
When two housing associations join together, changes to processes will be needed to ensure the new business can operate efficiently. It makes sense that a lot of staff will be required to come in and oversee the implementation of these processes on a contract basis. Operations staff are needed to work on business change projects, dealing with amendments to internal governance and processes.
According to Chris, candidates will be assessed in a very different way for these types of roles, “When dealing with the operations side of M&A recruitment, it’s important that we really get to know our candidates so that we can accurately match candidate and client. While candidates on the technical side will be assessed on their skills and abilities, what’s most important for these professionals is that we get the cultural match right. We need to find candidates who appreciate the sensitive nature of these projects and will be able to work towards a productive, efficient handover.”
If you’re a contractor looking to put your skills to use in the housing sector, this could be the perfect time for you to find a role. Whether you’re a Business Manager, Project Manager or Programme Manager, or looking to see what’s out there, we can help you find the position you’re looking for. Speak with one of our dedicated consultants today to find out more.