Thank you for your very prompt response.
I note you do not dispute my basic premise – that after buying 6000 council home from Wycombe District Council in 2011 for the rock bottom price of £3000 a piece, Red Kite is now sitting on assets of £2 billion which it can dispose of how it wishes. Indeed, you don’t even mention this startling fact.
I am disappointed you have not responded to most of my points, many of which you say are factually wrong. You decided not to do so because you say Red Kite is not a political organisation and my points are politically driven.
I should point out that the transfer of the council houses to Red Kite was carried out by a conservative council and was entirely politically driven. Red Kite’s whole existence was politically driven. Representatives of the conservative district council sat on the Board of Red Kite as a matter of contractual right for five years.
Two conservative councillors – Councillors Ian McEnnnis and Paul Turner – still sit on the Board of Red Kite and there is no representation of any other political party. So it is clear that Red Kite is still politically influenced.
To decline to respond to my points because you think I am politically driven (whatever you think that means) is therefore nonsense. I assume you respond to points made by conservative members of your Board; not to do so to me, because presumably I have different political views, is discriminatory and unprofessional. And, unless you do me the courtesy of pointing out where you think I am factually wrong, I can only assume I am correct.
But let me do you the courtesy of pointing out where you are factually wrong.
You say I have implied that Red Kite can make illicit gains. I have made no such suggestion. On the contrary, as you can see, I checked the legality of what Red Kite is doing and was told by the regulator that it is perfectly legal.
You say that Red Kite is tenant-led. However, according to your website, of the 10 person Board, only one is a tenant. Two are district councillors. The rest are what I would describe as current or retired professionals with experience in economic development, finance, marketing, building, accountancy, housing and law.
Moreover, according to Companies House’s website, there is no tenant on any of Red Kite’s four subsidiary companies - Twenty11, Edenmead, Pennvale and DevCo.
Red Kite might consult tenants but the power lies with the Boards; that is where decisions are made. So how can you possibly describe Red Kite as tenant-led?
You say Red Kite delivered on all its promises. That is not correct. One of the biggest promises (in fact it was a contractual obligation in the contract with WDC) was to redevelop the Star Blocks homes by Dec 2016 at the latest. It was estimated this would cost Red Kite about £10 million. This has still not been done.
You say that “Red Kite and Twenty11 are both charitable purpose organisations. Any surplus generated has to be reinvested in delivering our charitable purpose. There are no shareholders who can take money out of the organisation.”
This is correct; Twenty11 has charitable purposes. However, the other three subsidiary companies are not charitable; they are all commercial companies.
You say Red Kite is the only shareholder of these subsidiary companies. According to Companies House this is correct. However, there is nothing to stop Red Kite selling shares of these subsidiaries to individuals or companies in the future – or indeed selling the companies outright to a private sector company. And of course Red Kite can transfer property to these subsidiary companies before such a sale.
Finally, thank you for the invitation to host a visit. With all due respect to the tenants and the staff, it is the Board I would like to meet. They, after all, now control the company which owns the council houses I used to own as a resident of Wycombe district. I would like to know what they propose to do with the £2 billion of assets they have been effectively gifted by Wycombe District Council.
The transfer of homes from WDC to Red Kite as a tenant-led Housing Association was something designed and championed by tenants, to ensure they had a big say in the future of their landlord.
Our approach of being tenant-led is embedded in how we operate as an organisation. It’s a shame you don’t feel able to embrace this model, as many of our tenants have done, with hours of commitment. I also hope your article and this one, encourages more tenants to get involved and ultimately join our governing Board.
The transfer process was complex, being driven by a set of government rules, including how homes were valued. We are not a political organisation, so I am not going to respond to many of your points that I see as politically driven and in many cases factually wrong. You are however right to say that part of the Transfer Agreement involved Red Kite delivering on 109 promises, many relating to improvements to our tenants homes. All of these promises were delivered on time and under budget, and we continue to deliver improvement programmes, spending millions of pounds each year.
You are wrong to say we are not developing new homes. We have an ambitious development programme to build 375 homes by 2023, providing a range of different tenure types of homes that meet people’s individual affordability. In this area, the affordability of homes is one of the most critical issues that impacts on the prosperity of the community, not only for people who need social housing, but also for other types of tenure. For this reason, we are trying to fill this void and become the housing provider of choice for all local people, building new homes for both social and flexible rent, building homes for shared ownership and for purchase, as well as more affordable market rent for those who need it. Homes that we build to sell will help subsidise homes for social and flexible rent - in that way, not only are we helping the whole community, but we are still able to build truly affordable homes for those that need them, incidentally the only housing provider in this region who is able to still do this.
We have applied for planning permission on a number of sites, with some having already been granted and work started on a number of sites across the district. We have also contracted to purchase new homes from developers that form their affordable homes commitment on their sites. Our first homes purchased via this route are due for occupation later in 2019.
You are also wrong to imply that we have the ability to sell homes and somehow make an illicit gain. Red Kite and Twenty11 are both charitable purpose organisations. Any surplus generated has to be reinvested in delivering our charitable purpose. There are no shareholders who can take money out of the organisation.
The two subsidiary companies you refer to are wholly owned by Red Kite. They are a tax efficient means of ensuring we can return any surplus generated to one of the charitable companies to use for its charitable purpose. If we are to develop new homes at rents local people can afford, we need to subsidies the build cost with profit from these companies. Without doing so, our ability to build these much needed homes is adversely impacted.
Our new charitable company Twenty11 has been set up to be flexible and charge rents based on what individual households can afford, rather than a rent set on the property, which may not be affordable, given their circumstances. This approach has many supporters and is seen as fairer and ensuring a tenant can sustain their home.
With local data demonstrating that in order to afford to purchase a home, a household needs to be earning at least £90,000, our role as a housing provider is even more important.
I am always open to hosting a visit to introduce you to some of our involved tenants, great Board and staff. The community will shortly see our developments of new homes appearing over the local area. This is an exciting and positive time to celebrate our tenant-led organisation, with our ambition to help as many local people as we can, with a new home. We are investing every penny we earn/borrow in homes and services for our community.
Group Chief Executive"