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Affinity Sutton is one of the largest providers of affordable housing in England managing over 57,000 homes and properties in over 120 local authorities. As a housing association, Affinity Sutton builds and manages a range of homes for people with a variety of needs and budgets. As well as owning and managing properties, Affinity Sutton delivers a number of community focused services in the areas that they work.
Rental and home ownership
Affinity Sutton’s core purpose is to build and manage rental homes at sub-market rates for those who can’t afford to pay full market rates in the areas where they live. In addition, they also offer accommodation for key workers and those of retirement age and social rented accommodation. Other services they provide include supported housing which delivers extra care and support to vulnerable people and Rent 4 Less which is for working people, with prices at up to 80% of what might be paid in the private rental sector.
Affinity Sutton also provides a number of routes that aim to make home ownership more accessible. Shared ownership, also called part buy part rent, is designed for those that cannot afford to buy a home with a mortgage outright. In 2010, in partnership with Santander, Affinity Sutton launched a 95% mortgage deal for customers looking to buy their home through shared ownership. Affinity Sutton also offer an Equity loan to help towards home ownership.
To fund their social housing, Affinity Sutton develop a limited number of properties for open market sale – either in partnership with another developer or on their own account.
Community and tenancy support services
The community services Affinity Sutton offer aim to give support to people living in their homes and improve their neighbourhood.
This ranges from providing facilities for children to play, increasing access to computer facilities, youth clubs, sports clubs and courses and workshops where individuals can learn skills such as managing money and employment and job training.
Affinity Sutton have over 60 community centres across the country which are used by local residents and businesses to run community events and initiatives.
First Base is a structured programme of support that Affinity Sutton provide for young people aged between 18–25 to ensure they have the skills needed to manage and maintain their tenancies and to create a safe and secure home. Initially piloted in Bromley, the scheme has rolled out across Bromley, Lewisham, Hertsmere the North East and Humberside.
The history of Affinity Sutton can be traced back to 1900 when Victorian entrepreneur, William Richard Sutton bestowed his fortune to a charitable trust in his will to provide ‘model dwellings and houses for occupation by the poor of London and other towns and populous places in England’. This formed the Sutton Dwellings Trust.
In 1909, Sutton Dwellings Trust’s first new homes were completed at the Bethnal Green Estate in East London and by 1925 the Trust had developed almost 2,000 homes across six sites, including the Chelsea Estate in South West London.
In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, the Trust housed over 32,000 people.
In 1964, Downland was formed by a group of local businessmen in Sussex led by engineer, Archibald Shaw.
In 1990, Mid Sussex Housing Association was formed as one of the very first Large Scale Voluntary Transfers when homes from Mid Sussex District Council were transferred from public ownership.
In 1992, Broomleigh was formed as the first urban Large Scale Voluntary Transfer of homes from the London Borough of Bromley.
In 1994, Ridgehill Housing Association was formed through the large scale voluntary transfer of Hertsmere Borough Council’s homes.
In 1996, Downland Housing Society and Mid Sussex Housing Association came together to form the Downland Housing Group.
In 2000, Community Building Services was set up to deliver repairs and maintenance services to Ridgehill residents.
In 2001, Aashyana, the South West’s first Asian led housing association, joined William Sutton Trust.
In 2004, Downland Retirement Management and Downland Property Management merged to form Grange Management Group. Downland Housing Group and The Affinity Homes Group then merged to become Downland Affinity and create one of the sector’s largest groups.
In 2005, William Sutton and Ridgehill Boards agree to amalgamate and form a new association, called William Sutton Homes. Downland Affinity and William Sutton Homes then merged in 2006 to become one of the largest housing groups in the sector, Affinity Sutton.
In 2007, former MP Kerry Pollard was removed as Chair of William Sutton Homes, after he had complained about the behaviour of the new parent company in removing the association's chief executive.
In 2009, Affinity Sutton celebrated 100 years since their first housing project in Bethnal Green. In 2011, William Sutton Homes, Downland and Broomleigh amalgamated to form Affinity Sutton Homes.
Affinity Sutton Group Limited comprises:
- Aashyana Housing Association Limited
- Affinity Sutton Capital Markets Plc
- Affinity Sutton Community Foundation
- Affinity Sutton Funding Limited
- Affinity Sutton Homes Limited
- Affinity Sutton Investments Limited
- Affinity Sutton Labour Agency Limited
- Affinity Sutton Professional Services Limited
- Community Building Services (CBS) Limited
- Broomleigh Regeneration Limited
- Downland Regeneration Limited
- Grange Management (Southern) Limited
- William Sutton Developments Limited
As a non-profit distributing housing association, Affinity Sutton is subject to the Homes and Communities Agency regulatory regime. The social housing regulator sets standards that social landlords are expected to meet. The regulator focuses on economic regulation and will expect landlords to meet expectations on governance, financial viability, rent setting and value for money.
Affinity Sutton funds its activities through both private funding vehicles and Government grants. As a private, non-profit distributing housing association, it reinvests its surplus into building new homes and supporting the communities in which its residents live.
It borrowed £250 million through a bond issue in 2008, which at the time was the largest own-name bond issue by a housing association, and the first AA-rated bond from the sector. A second £250 million bond was issued in 2012 at the then lowest interest rate in the sector (4.25% for 30 years).
As the late-2000s financial crisis reduced the viability of property developments, Affinity Sutton wrote off £13 million from asset values in its balance sheet in 2009, which was the largest impairment booked by a housing association to that date. Unlike smaller associations, it was able to bear the loss without requiring additional public grant.
Affinity Sutton won the second largest award of grant funding in the Homes and Communities Agency's 2011–15 programme, but as of 2013 is unlikely to deliver all the 3,000 homes promised, because of difficulties in getting higher "affordable rents" agreed with local authorities.
- Sunday Times British Homes Awards - highly commended in the Housing Project category for The Square.
- NHF Affordable Home Ownership Awards- Highly Commended for Maple Quays, Canada Water
- Green Apple Award - Built Environment – Best Use of Mixed Development at Durand Close, Carshalton.
- Construction News Retrofit Project of the Year - Affinity Sutton's national retrofitting project, FutureFit, named Retrofit Project of the Year.
- SHIFT Award - supported by the Homes and Communities Agency, UK Green Building Council, WWF and the TSA - FutureFit, Affinity Sutton’s national retrofitting project, was praised as “outstanding research assisting the sector understand sustainability challenges.”
- Winner Housing Association of the Year, 2011 – WhatHouse? Awards
- Big Tick Reaccreditation - Affinity Sutton retained its Big Tick status in 2012 for its work in Building Stronger Communities in the Business in the Community Awards for Excellence
- Sustainable Housing Awards 2012 – winner, Social housing provider of the year - Innovative approach to green homes award
In the 2010 Inside Housing survey of Chief Executive salaries, Keith Exford, CEO of Affinity Sutton, was highlighted as receiving the highest bonus in the Social housing sector.
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- Affinity writes down £13m, Inside Housing, 31 July 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/nick-duxbury/464.bio (2 August 2013). "Delivery concerns at Affinity Sutton". Inside Housing. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "Sunday Times British Homes Awards - The Square".
- "Sustainable Housing Awards 2012". Inside Housing. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Stockdale, Lydia (23 September 2010). "Average chief exec salary tops £150k". Inside Housing. Retrieved 10 August 2013.