Proposed merger with Aster Group

C&C is proposing a partnership with Aster Group, a housing association.

This merger is being proposed so that we could provide even better services and support to our current and future housing and care residents. It would support our continued investment in our housing properties, care homes and services, and would enable us to better respond to current/future challenges and opportunities.

Through the proposed merger, C&C would become a subsidiary company of the Aster Group. C&C would retain its name, homes, services and local service teams.

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Among the key benefits for C&C housing and care residents include:

  • Acceleration of planned investment in our properties.
  • New digital services that would enable greater independence and connect residents to family, friends, the wider community and our C&C services.
  • 700 new affordable homes for the over-55s in London.
  • A broader programme of community activities and volunteering.
  • The provision of more care services to support the over 55s.
  • Acceleration of our existing ‘Out Not In’ Care Strategy.

Why Aster?

Aster (www.aster.co.uk) is a registered housing association like C&C. They have a similar approach and ethos and are just as passionate about C&C’s work as we are. Aster is based in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and other areas in between. They are a top 10 housing association and have over 32,000 homes. They have a strong track record of investing in existing and new homes and growing resident services. Aster very much want to engage with C&C’s work in London and to support people aged over 55 in London to live in their communities.

Frequently asked questions

In order to address any queries you may have about this proposed merger, we have developed a dedicated list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below. You can skip to the dedicated information and FAQs most relevant to you by clicking on one of the below links:

Information for C&C sheltered scheme/general needs (housing) residents

Information for C&C care home residents / next-of-kin

Information for key stakeholders (incl. partners, suppliers, local services, councils, GPs etc)

C&C
C&C

Proposed merger FAQs: C&C housing residents

C&C believes that there would be a number of benefits to current and future C&C residents from the proposed merger with Aster Group. The most obvious advantage is that Aster brings scale and resources that C&C would need to deliver on our new agenda. By coming together, our ability to borrow and invest grows significantly. Funds can be released so that C&C is able to accelerate its investment programme in buildings, technology, services and our staff.

These are the main benefits that a proposed merger would provide our residents:

Accelerate planned investment into our properties: By joining the Aster Group, we would be able to more quickly deliver planned investment in our properties.

Create more connected communities: Like us, Aster are investing in digital services for residents. Online services will allow residents to connect better with us, with each other and in the future with their wider communities, By aligning, we would be able speed up our plans and deliver services to our residents more quickly and cost-effectively.

Invest in more community activities, involvement and volunteering: Through the combined work of C&C’s arts, events and fitness programmes, and the Aster Foundation our approach would support residents to sustain their tenancies, to feel proud and safe in the communities in which they live, and achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes. We could have an even stronger offer to engage residents, partners and stakeholders on initiatives including volunteering, skills-based training and mentoring, community-based involvement initiatives and intergenerational activity that will support great customer lives.

Build more affordable homes for over 55s in London: Greater investment also means being able to build more properties between us. The Aster Group’s vision is that ‘everyone has a home.’ This proposed coming together would enable 700 more homes to be built over the next seven years than otherwise could be if C&C and Aster both operated alone.

Grow much needed care services in London: There is a growing need to provide both more care services to our residents and more residential care homes. Through this proposed merger, we would be supported in growing our care service provision across London – both through our homes and potentially through our schemes.

The following FAQs provide all current residents in C&C's sheltered accommodation and general needs schemes with information about the proposal, the benefits to you and how we would like to hear from you.

We are aiming to regularly keep this FAQs list updated, adding in new questions and answers as and when we receive them from our residents.

If we proceed with the merger, your tenancy agreement with C&C would stay the same as it is now. The services you currently receive would not be affected by the proposed merger.

C&C residents have one of three types of tenancy: Assured tenancy, Secure tenancy or Assured Short-Hold tenancy.

Assured and Secure tenancy agreements

Most of our residents are Assured or Secure tenants. Under these tenancy agreements, you have a lifetime legal right to stay in your home – providing you continue to meet the conditions of your tenancy. Some exemptions would continue to apply as they do now i.e. if a landlord needs to carry out refurbishments and these refurbishments cannot proceed with the resident in place. In such instances, the landlord must pay reasonable costs and ensure security of tenancy on return to settled accommodation.

Assured Short-Hold tenancy agreements e.g. 55 London residents

Some tenancy agreements – such as our 55 London tenancies - are usually for a fixed period of time e.g. 12 months, or other periods stated on the Tenancy Agreement. Changes to fixed-term tenancies could not legally be made as a result of the proposed merger.

Your rent / service charge is charged in line with your Tenancy agreement. Service charges are calculated based on the cost of services provided to residents.

Your benefits and entitlements and terms of your tenancy agreement would stay as they are now.

A merger happens when two or more organisations join together to create one new organisation, or when one smaller organisation joins a larger one as a subsidiary company within a Group. If an organisation joins as a subsidiary (as is proposed for C&C), it continues to operate as a company, and can also access resources provided by the group (e.g. finance, people, technology etc).

Since 1926, C&C’s single purpose has been to provide safe, affordable homes and quality services to our residents.

We have in recent years set up our own in-house repairs services, provided a dedicated contact centre, invested significantly in the safety of our existing homes, developed new systems and technologies to help us better support our residents and started to develop new specialist homes for those who are over 55, including our new flagship ‘Dora House’ that is due to complete next year.

A number of recent changes in wider society along with new Government targets are challenging us to develop and invest even more in our future. Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic have changed the way that we need to plan this future; our ageing population needs more and better homes; and our climate crisis needs us to take action now.

As a result of these changes, we believe that we could be stronger by joining with a larger organisation to be more able to meet these new challenges.

Significant changes in society

The Grenfell disaster (2017) has brought much needed focus for reform in building safety and a new code of governance for housing associations. A new Government framework and Tenancy Standard will set out and reinforce how landlords must listen and action resident feedback.

The population is ageing rapidly, and by 2038 1 in 4 people in the UK will be over 65. It is vital that housing associations such as C&C are ready to respond with homes, services and technology to support a wide range of resident needs.

While we remain financially stable, we face financial challenges both from Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re also living in the middle of a global climate crisis where all homes need to be net carbon neutral by 2050. Meeting these challenges will have considerable financial impacts on housing associations such as C&C.

  • We would continue to provide our current housing services and repairs services to current and new residents.
  • We would continue to invest in the safety, warmth and security of our buildings.
  • We would continue to invest in engaging residents with a rich activity and fitness programme, as well as opportunities to volunteer.
  • We would continue to invest in helping residents to connect to and use online services and technologies that support an independent life.
  • We would continue to provide a range of C&C resident forums and meetings to listen to residents and take action on day-to-day issues.

No. You have legal rights and protection as a social housing tenant, as set out by the Social Housing Regulator. These rights remain unaffected by this proposed merger, so please be assured that you will not lose your home as a result of the merger.

Aster is a registered housing association like C&C. They have a similar approach and ethos and are just as passionate about C&C’s work as we are.

Aster is based in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and other areas in between. They are a top 10 housing association and have over 32,000 homes.

They have a strong track record of investing in existing and new homes and growing resident services.

Aster very much want to engage with C&C’s work in London and to support over 55s in London to live in their communities.

You can find out more about Aster Group, how they are funded and their governance framework by reading the below document:

https://www.ccht.org.uk/media/z35piwas/ccht-about-aster.pdf

Aster was established in 1990.

The latest available figures for Aster are as follows:

General needs (social and affordable rent) – 23,538 (76%)

Shared ownership – 3,197 (10%)

Housing for older people – 2,726 (9%)

Extra care – 786 (3%)

Care home – 23 (0%)

Other - 535 (2%)

To deliver the housing that our society needs, Aster operates a mixed delivery method, engaging a variety of partners from national housebuilders to local communities through their Community Land Trust programme. This enables Aster to cater for choice and tailor the homes they build to the people that need them – whether it’s affordable or social rent or alternatives to traditional ownership like shared ownership.

For Aster, C&C is an attractive brand with a proud heritage and is deeply committed to the communities it serves. C&C brings knowledge of housing for an ageing population and specialist care services. Aster needs this expertise to support its own strategic growth.

C&C also brings a London presence that is important for Aster’s growth plans. Our expertise will help Aster to grow its offer in housing for people aged over 55, residential care, and the provision of homes in London.

Crucially, Aster is committed to supporting us in realising our vision and reaching our goals.

Above all, residents would see more investment in services as a result of this proposal.

  • It is proposed that C&C would join Aster as a subsidiary and maintain its current name and brand
  • Our approach is to make best use of the skills, experiences and resources that each organisation can offer so that we can learn from each other and ultimately be a better employer and provider of homes and services.
  • Residents would continue to receive the same level of service, both before and immediately after the proposed merger.

It wouldn’t. We would continue our commitment to residents of Dora House and help them to move back to their new homes when they have finished being built.

If the proposal goes ahead, you would remain a C&C tenant. Your current tenancy agreement would remain the same. As C&C would operate as a subsidiary of Aster Group, we would continue to maintain the C&C brand and deliver the services to you.

C&C invests millions of pounds every year into property maintenance and safety and a whole range of services to support our residents.

As a small organisation that is investing every penny in improving our homes, we are limited on how much we can borrow. This means that investment can take more years to complete than we would like.

As a large housing association, Aster is able to raise the funds that we require without the borrowing restrictions that would face C&C. The proposal would allow us to proceed with our planned investment programmes far more quickly.

No. C&C shareholders do not receive dividends and are not financially incentivised or rewarded at all. Indeed, some C&C residents are also shareholders, as are a number of our Board of Management members.

A detailed business case is being prepared for the C&C board. While we cannot go into specifics due to the confidential nature of mergers, the key benefits to residents have been set out in the letter to residents on 25 June 2021, and are also available on this website.

The proposed merger, should it go ahead, would mean that C&C could invest more in digital services to better connect our residents to us and their communities. Specific detail around what digital improvements could be undertaken would be developed further should the proposed merger be agreed and completed. Currently Wi-Fi is offered, for free, in communal areas across our sheltered and supported schemes, along with our care homes.

Aster does not have an internal transfer list. All lettings are conducted through the Local Authority Choice Based Lettings scheme. Transfers to an Aster property would only take place under exceptional circumstances through a Management Transfer.

Irrespective of the proposed merger, C&C has been looking to conduct a review as to the status of its Central Office. If the proposed merger is completed, it would be likely that C&C would share a space with Aster in London, but this may not be the current Central Office in Waterloo.

If English is not your first language, you can call our Service Hub on 0207 922 5300 and they can arrange for a translation of the letter you received to be made available.

If you require any other form of support to help you with this letter, please speak to a service officer, call our Service Hub or email: getinvolved@ccht.org.uk

There are many ways you can share your views, and we are encouraging residents to get in touch before the ongoing consultation period closes. Please note the consultation period has been extended to Tuesday 31 August 2021.

  • Complete the feedback form enclosed with the letter sent to all residents, and return with the enclosed SAE
  • Speak to your Portfolio Manager or scheme staff
  • Attend scheme meetings and/or a special virtual Resident Assembly to be held on Thursday 19 August at 10-11.30am (please email getinvolved@ccht.org.uk to secure your place at the meeting and for joining instructions)
  • Email us directly getinvolved@ccht.org.uk
  • Call the Service Hub to register a question on 0207 922 5300.

This has been done for two reasons. Firstly, it allows more time to help residents be assured and be comfortable with the proposed merger.

It also provides opportunities for residents to meet senior managers from the Aster Group during the extended consultation period.

By any of the above ways of getting in touch. We would encourage you to email your questions to getinvolved@ccht.org.uk as the most direct way of communicating with us. Please note, the identity of residents will remain anonymous when sharing the answers to questions received in future communications.

We will be regularly updating this page as and when we have received and responded to resident queries, in order to share our responses more widely.

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C&C
C&C

Proposed merger FAQs: C&C care home residents / next-of-kin

The following FAQs provide all current residents in C&C's four care homes, along with their next-of-kin, with information about the proposed merger, the benefits to you/your loved one and how we would like to hear from you. We are aiming to regularly keep this FAQs list updated, adding in new questions and answers as and when we receive them from our residents and their loved ones.

The most obvious advantage to residents is that Aster brings scale and resources that C&C would need to deliver on our new agenda.

By coming together, our ability to borrow and invest grows significantly. Funds can be released so that C&C is able to accelerate its investment programme in buildings, technology, services and our staff.

These are the main benefits that a proposed merger would provide our residents:

  • Greater investment in our care provision

There is a growing need to provide both more care services to our residents and more residential care homes. Through this proposed merger, we would be supported in growing our care service provision across London – both through our care homes and potentially through our housing schemes.

  • A commitment to our ‘Out Not In’ Care Strategy and in improving the quality of our care

Through, for example, greater investment in technologies and in improving the quality of our current care provision, we could deliver even better services that would help care home residents to lead their very best lives.

  • Invest in more community activities, involvement and volunteering

Through the combined work of C&C’s arts, events and fitness programmes, and the Aster Foundation our approach would support residents, to help them feel engaged in their care homes and communities in which they live, and achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes. We could have an even stronger offer to engage residents, partners and stakeholders on initiatives including volunteering, skills-based training and mentoring, community-based involvement initiatives and intergenerational activity that will support great customer lives.

  • Build more affordable homes for over 55s in London

Greater investment also means being able to build more properties between us. The Aster Group’s vision is that ‘everyone has a home.’

This proposed coming together would enable 700 more homes to be built over the next seven years than otherwise could be if C&C and Aster both operated alone.

If we proceed with the merger, you/your loved one’s placement in our care homes would stay the same as it is now. The services you/your loved one currently receives and any fees that you/your loved one currently pays would not be affected by the proposed merger. C&C would remain registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

All relevant fees are charged in line with agreed placement contracts and would remain the same.

A merger happens when two or more organisations join together to create one new organisation, or when one smaller organisation joins a larger one as a subsidiary company within a Group. If an organisation joins as a subsidiary (as is proposed for C&C), it continues to operate as a company, and can also access resources provided by the group (e.g. finance, people, technology etc).

Since 1926, C&C’s single purpose has been to provide safe, affordable homes and care homes, along with quality services to our residents.

We have in recent years developed a new ‘Out Not In’ Care Strategy and invested in new technologies to improve the provision of care. More widely, we have set up our own in-house repairs services, and invested significantly in the safety of our existing homes and care homes.

A number of recent changes in wider society along with new Government targets are challenging us to develop and invest even more in our future. Our ageing population needs more and better homes, care homes and services; Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic have changed the way that we need to plan this future; and our climate crisis needs us to take action now.

As a result of these changes, we believe that we could be stronger and more resilient by joining with a larger organisation to be more able to meet these new challenges.

A brighter future together

Together, C&C and Aster, have one simple, shared objective: to deliver more and better homes/care homes and services to residents.

Together, we can do more:

  • Better realise our ‘Out Not In’ Care Strategy more rapidly to continually help improve the quality of life for you/your loved ones.
  • Invest more in our current homes and meet the wider challenges facing society e.g. ageing population.
  • Invest more in specialist technology to better support care provision and help residents lead their very best lives.
  • Build 700 more homes than we could alone, and help tackle the national housing shortage for over 55s in housing and care.
  • We would continue to provide our current care services and associated services to current and new residents.
  • We would continue to invest in technologies to improve the quality of care and to maximise independence.
  • We would continue to invest in engaging residents with a rich activity and fitness programme, as well as opportunities to volunteer.
  • We would continue to invest in the safety, warmth and security of our buildings.
  • We would continue to provide a range of C&C forums and meetings to listen to residents/their loved ones and take action on day-to-day issues.

The purpose of this merger proposal would be to allow C&C to retain its name, brand, and most importantly its homes – including our care homes. The management of our care homes would remain within C&C and the relevant care teams. C&C would continue to operate as C&C under this proposed merger, effectively as a subsidiary of Aster.

Indeed, one of the main attractions to Aster is C&C’s expertise in care. They currently provide approximately 3,000 units of extra care housing and they intend to grow their provision in this area. Should the proposed merger go ahead, C&C would take leadership on Aster’s over-55 offer (including care). Over 55s housing and care provision is very much part of Aster’s strategy, and that is the primary reason why we are in discussion around a potential partnership.

In fact, in addition to maintaining our current care provision, the proposal is effectively seeking faster investment in our homes than we are currently able to provide. The merger proposal supports the commitments laid out in our ‘Out Not In’ care strategy published in 2019 which includes refurbishment at three of our care homes (see https://www.ccht.org.uk/media/5gkdnn32/out-not-in-care-strategy-2019-27.pdf).

Aster is a registered housing association like C&C. They have a similar approach and ethos and are just as passionate about C&C’s work as we are.

Aster is based in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and other areas in between. They are a top 10 housing association and have over 32,000 homes.

They have a strong track record of investing in existing and new homes and growing resident services.

Aster very much want to engage with C&C’s work in London and to support over 55s in London to live in their communities.

You can find out more about Aster Group, how they are funded and their governance framework by reading the below document:

https://www.ccht.org.uk/media/z35piwas/ccht-about-aster.pdf

For Aster, C&C is an attractive brand with a proud heritage and is deeply committed to the communities it serves.  C&C brings knowledge of housing for an ageing population and specialist care homes and services. Aster needs this expertise to support its own strategic growth.

C&C also brings a London presence that is important for Aster’s growth plans. Our expertise will help Aster to grow its offer in housing for people aged over 55, along with care services in London and beyond.

Crucially, Aster is committed to supporting us in realising our vision and reaching our goals.

Above all, residents will see more investment in services as a result of this proposal.

  • It is proposed that C&C would join Aster as a subsidiary and maintain its current name and brand
  • Our approach is to make best use of the skills, experiences and resources that each organisation can offer so that we can learn from each other and ultimately be a better employer and provider of homes and services.
  • Residents would continue to receive the same level of service, both before and immediately after the proposed merger.

Our CQC registration would remain as Central & Cecil (C&C) and you/your loved one will continue to remain a C&C care home resident.

As C&C would operate as a subsidiary of Aster Group, we would continue to maintain the C&C brand and deliver the services to you.

C&C invests millions of pounds every year into property maintenance and safety and a whole range of services to support our residents.

As a small organisation that is investing every penny in improving our homes/care homes, we are limited on how much we can borrow. This means that investment can take more years to complete than we would like.

As a large housing association, Aster is able to raise the funds that we require without the borrowing restrictions that would face C&C. The proposal would allow us to proceed with our planned investment programmes far more quickly.

If English is not your first language, you can call our Service Hub on 0207 922 5300 and they can arrange for a translation to be made available.

If you require any other form of support to help you with this letter, please speak to you local Care Home Manager.

There are many ways you can share your views, and we are encouraging residents to get in touch before the ongoing consultation period closes. Please note the consultation period has been extended to Tuesday 31 August 2021.

  • Complete the feedback form enclosed with the letter sent to all residents/next-of-kin, and return with the enclosed SAE
  • Speak to your local Care Home Manager
  • Attend a consultation meeting for friends and family, to be held on Thursday 19 August at 11.45am-1pm. Please contact getinvolved@ccht.org.uk for dial-in details.
  • Email us directly getinvolved@ccht.org.uk

This has been done for two reasons. Firstly, it allows more time to help residents be assured and be comfortable with the proposed merger.

It also provides opportunities for residents to meet senior managers from the Aster Group during the extended consultation period.

By any of the above ways of getting in touch. We would encourage you to email your questions to getinvolved@ccht.org.uk as the most direct way of communicating with us. Please note, the identity of residents/next-of-kin will remain anonymous when sharing the answers to questions received in future communications.

We will be regularly updating this page as and when we have received and responded to resident queries, in order to share our responses more widely.

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C&C
C&C

Proposed merger FAQs: Suppliers, partners and other key C&C stakeholders

The following FAQs provide all our trusted suppliers as well as those we work closely with to deliver our varied housing and care services (including councils, medical professionals and arts/event partners), with information about the proposed merger, the benefits to C&C and how we would like to hear from you.

We are aiming to regularly keep this FAQs list updated, adding in new questions and answers as and when we receive them.

If we proceed with the merger, C&C would remain as the contracting authority for relevant products and services in support of our residents and staff. Services that we currently provide to our residents would continue. Relevant contracts would continue to remain in place and reviewed as is current practice. Re-procurement exercises would be carried out at the appropriate time.

Initially, this proposed merger with Aster would help us to achieve:

  • Faster planned investment in all our properties
  • New digital services that would enable greater independence, and connect residents to family, friends, the wider community and our C&C services
  • A broader programme of community activities and volunteering
  • 700 more new affordable homes than would otherwise be possible
  • The provision of more care services to support the over 55s.

Initially, this proposed merger with Aster would help us to achieve:

  • A commitment to our existing four care homes and to the provision of more care services to support the over 55s across London and beyond
  • Greater investment in our care services to improve delivery of care
  • Acceleration of our existing ‘Out Not In’ Care Strategy
  • More investment in technologies to better support independent living
  • A broader programme of community activities and volunteering
  • Faster planned investment in our properties.

We are fully committed to at least maintaining the current levels of support that our residents receive: our current housing and care services and repairs services would continue. There would be no changes to our residents’ current tenancy agreements and rent/service charges would not be impacted by this proposal.

Aster is a registered housing association like C&C. They have a similar approach and ethos and are just as passionate about C&C’s work as we are.

Aster is based in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and other areas in between. They are a top 10 housing association and have over 32,000 homes.

They have a strong track record of investing in existing and new homes and growing resident services.

Aster very much want to engage with C&C’s work in London and to support over 55s in London to live in their communities.

You can find out more about Aster Group, how they are funded and their governance framework by reading the below document:

https://www.ccht.org.uk/media/z35piwas/ccht-about-aster.pdf

Through the proposed merger, C&C would become a subsidiary company of Aster Group and retain its name, homes, services and local service teams.  A decision on the proposal will be made by the Autumn. If successful, the merger would come into effect from January 2022.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding this proposal, please do email getinvolved@ccht.org.uk.

We will be regularly updating this page as and when we have received and responded to resident queries, in order to share our responses more widely.

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