About First Ark Group

The First Ark Group operates a social business model aiming to provide exceptional services and life changing opportunities to the tenants, customers and communities that we work in.

The Group was formed in 2012 and has grown into a diverse organisation that strive to be pioneering and innovative in the way we do business. We have added new elements to our business and our plans are for further growth, but we need to stay true to our social purpose and make sure we have our tenants and customers at the heart of everything that we do.

The First Ark Group comprises of the following companies:

  • First Ark: the Group parent company limited by guarantee which provides group governance, strategy and corporate services. It was a turnover of £10 million and 118 employees.
  • Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT): a registered provider of social housing which is a community benefit society and an exempt charity which provides affordable homes for rent and sheltered accommodation across Knowsley, Merseyside. KHT has a turnover of £62.1 million and has 108 employees.
  • Vivark: a company limited by shares which delivering facilities management and property refurbishment solutions across the North West. Vivark has a turnover of £20 million and 179 employees.
  • Oriel Living, (KHT Services and KHT Services Developments Ltd): wholly owned subsidiaries of KHT offering homes for sale, shared ownership and extra care facilities.
  • First Ark Social Investment: this is a special purpose vehicle which supports sustainable business growth and finance for social impact through Social Investment Funds. First Ark has a £4 million Access Growth Fund.
  • One Ark: is a registered investment charity and company limited by guarantee which, through partnerships creates and implements employability and skills services, health and wellbeing initiatives, environmental solutions and digital and financial inclusion. One Ark’s turnover is £0.8 million.

Our vision is about creating success that changes people’s lives.

Our mission is to deliver homes products and services that enable people, places and organisations to flourish.

Our Values

  • Being a pioneering business
  • Being a brave business
  • Being a fair business
  • Being an open business
  • Being a bold business

As a Group we have recently faced some challenges - a down grade in our regulatory status has meant we have assessed our governance structure and other key areas of the business that have been highlighted. In response to these challenges we have developed an action plan that will be the driving force around changes and improvements and will address the issues that were highlighted by the regulator.  Our partners, stakeholders and colleagues are all committed and engaged in this process and we are making positive progress to successfully achieving an improved regulatory grading within our agreed timeframe.

Changes in governance at First Ark Group

First Ark has recently undertaken a governance review with the aim to make an assessment of the effectiveness of the current governance structures and how well they enable the effective delivery of the Group’s strategy. The review was also asked to evaluate how the structure satisfied the applicable regulatory, legal and financial reporting requirements and protected social housing assets alongside facilitating the creation of reserves free of charitable or social housing regulation restrictions for use as the Group requires.

The review found that the current structure is overly complex in respect of the scope of the business across the Group and it does not facilitate efficient and effective delivery of the current strategy or meet the outcomes the Group requires. As a result, the First Ark Group has decided to move to a Phase One governance structure which will comprise one co-terminus / common board for all entities of 10 - 12 members. There will be 4 committees populated by the board. The corporate structure, i.e. the number and nature of legal entities will not change. The structure, effective from 1 April 2019.

This structure will deliver improved holistic risk and control across the Group. It will provide for some consolidation of oversight and greater Group focus on core housing services whilst also retain flexibility. A co-terminus board will be required to manage charitable and non-charitable duties and interests. All members will be expected to take up a board role and one committee role.

First Ark has also agreed that Helen White will take on the Interim Group Chair position as a means to focus on delivering the improvement plans around the core housing service and to effect an early handover to a newly appointed Group Chair Designate. This structure will form the baseline for a further Phase Two review in 2019/20. Phase Two will be aligned with a strategic review for the organisation, led by the new Group Chief Executive and Executive Team and this may result in rationalisation of corporate entities.

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