In 2015, we set out our strategy – our 2020 Vision. It was all about working together more effectively so that we could do more. In 2018, the members of Grand Union Housing Group decided to go further, and to come together as one legal entity. In taking on this significant challenge, we aimed to transform the way we delivered our services, and release financial strength to build more homes for the customers of the future. But importantly, we also wanted to improve transparency. We wanted our organisation to be one where the Board was able to gain a clear line of sight across the business, and where customers' voices could be heard clearly, and responded to.
Looking back, at the beginning of 2020, we’ve achieved so much. We consolidated into one organisation, as planned, in October 2018. And in June 2019, our approach was recognised as our unified organisation received the highest ratings for governance and viability following a rigorous In-Depth Assessment by our regulator. As part of Moody’s annual credit rating, we retained our A3 stable outlook. Just 12 months after our consolidation, we brought all our colleagues together into our beautiful modern K2 offices in Milton Keynes. Supported by new IT infrastructure, and a new agile approach to working, we’ve seen a real change in how easily colleagues can collaborate and support each other.
Less than 12 months in, our new way of working received a tougher test than we could have imagined. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone involved with Grand Union. It’s touched on every aspect of what we do, and we can be proud of how we’ve risen to the challenge, transforming our service delivery overnight. We’ve really seen how each of us has been driven to do more. And we’ve definitely been in it together; working alongside members of our communities to make a real difference.
Our response to the pandemic has reinforced the benefit of our approach to managing change. From the start of our consolidation, our projects have been led and delivered by Grand Union’s leadership team. We’ve worked with external consultants, to get support where we’ve needed it. But we’ve used each project as an opportunity to learn and to develop our colleagues and capabilities.
During the crisis, the importance of a home that really meets each person’s needs has become clearer than ever. As we come out of the current difficult period and plan for the next three years, it’s clear that we’ll need our new skills and our organisational strength. We operate in an area of planned economic growth, and we have a responsibility to help ensure that everyone in our communities benefits f rom the opportunities that brings. That means playing our part in tackling the housing crisis by building new homes at scale and at pace, and making as many as possible available at genuinely affordable rents. It means supporting our customers to achieve their potential through education and training, employment and getting involved in their communities. And it also means supporting the people who work for Grand Union. We can’t expect our colleagues to give their best if they don’t know we’re there for them when things are difficult.
The national context for our new strategy is widespread change, coupled with a loss of trust - justified or not - in many of the institutions that we’ve traditionally expected to support us through change. What we do matters, because we provide the stable homes that offer a haven for people living busy, modern, and often difficult lives. Our customers often have little choice but to rely on us, and it is absolutely critical that we deserve their trust in the small things, like keeping appointments, as well as the big things like supporting them to gain qualifications and work. Our new strategy is aimed at deserving and retaining the trust of our customers, our colleagues and our wider stakeholders. It’s underpinned by the values that shape our organisation’s culture and guide everything that we do.