Enterprising response to a changing world

In her latest blog our Chief Executive Elspeth Mackenzie reveals how Thrive Homes is seeking to evolve while remaining true to its social purpose.

At Thrive, we have always prided ourselves on our innovative approach to challenges and ability to adapt in the fast-changing environment in which our sector operates.

Our strategic objectives include resilience, growth and a fair deal for customers, supported by our values: being open, respectful, reliable and professional.

All of these elements of our identity are integral to the way we are evolving as an organisation, as we strive to make the most of opportunities while never losing sight of our social conscience and fundamental purpose to provide quality, safe and affordable homes.

So it is that Thrive is entering an exciting new era, as we seek to position ourselves as a business which lies between a traditional housing association and a for-profit housing provider – a professional landlord underpinned by ethics.

Thrive Homes will, of course, continue to do what it has always done – provide affordable social housing. But we are now looking to include market rent homes within our portfolio.

It seems clear that there is a need for diversity within our business so we can offer homes at different price points for people at different stages of their life, which are suitable for their particular needs and requirements.

Part of the drive behind this move is the fact that we operate in an area where most people are priced out of the housing market, plus the fact that many private individual landlords are feeling the squeeze due to legislative and tax regime changes.

Having heard disturbing stories from some of our customers about their previous experiences with private landlords, we feel there is certainly a role within that market for an organisation like ourselves which is professional, ethical and guided by a strong moral compass.

Exploring opportunities

We know the world is changing, and the growing number of for-profit housing providers are here to stay. So how do we, as a sector, respond to that? To be sustainable and remain relevant, we have to start thinking differently and embracing different ways of doing things.

At Thrive we are working to structure our business in such a way that we are able to identify new sources of funding and capital, rather than relying solely on conventional lending, and are keen to explore the opportunities of working in partnership with different types of organisation.

This shift will operate in parallel with our growth ambitions, which currently involve building around 150 homes – a mix of social affordable rent and shared ownership – each year. Our development programme is already leading us to forge new partnerships and joint ventures with various external partners.

Although, to some degree, this approach can begin to change the dynamic of the kind of business you are operating, that is all the more reason to be absolutely clear about your own ethics and those expected of your partners.

To us, it is vital that we secure the successful future of our organisation without becoming overly commercial or losing our core focus. Over the last year we have laid the groundwork by introducing the ‘Thrive Deal’ which clearly sets out the relationship between ourselves and our customers, based on our commitment to being a professional landlord customers can rely on.

Our work has involved emphasising to our teams the importance of maintaining Thrive’s ethics and integrity. This will be a key theme of the upcoming Staff Day when colleagues will discuss our values, behaviours and the need to ‘do the right thing’ whatever business stream we are operating within.

Inevitably we must all evolve in order to survive, thrive and continue to fulfil our social purpose. I believe, for us to achieve that, there is room for a new way of thinking and a new kind of organisation – a hybrid that defies traditional pigeonholes.