Housing CEO WhatsApp summary: November – December 2023

Latest Housing CEO WhatsApp Highlights, November – December 2023

A note to readers

These notes summarise recent discussions on Campbell Tickell’s WhatsApp group for Chief Executives of housing associations and ALMOs across all four UK jurisdictions and the Republic of Ireland. A full summary of discussions from the inception of the group is available on request.

This is a closed group, open only to CEOs in housing associations and ALMOs. It currently has around 250 members.

While discussions are confidential and unattributable, members of the group are keen for the content themes and issues to be shared widely to assist with broader understanding.

Please note:

The following digest highlights matters that have been discussed in the group. None of the content should be treated as representing the collective views of the group as such, or be attributed to any of its members. The group is an information-sharing forum and not a policy-making body.

Download the full summary (pdf)

Key themes


1. Members once again used the group to explore what assumptions other providers are modelling rents at, as well as whether other providers were modelling using the September or October CPI. Modelling assumptions presented were 5%, 5.3%, 7% and 7.7% with a cautious eye on the wider economic and political situation.

2. Modelling was also mentioned in relation to salaries to ensure alignment with trends and to preserve real living wage. Members discussed recruitment challenges which persist in the sector due to “below average” pay and the cost of professionalisation and qualifications. Examples of previous salary increases were discussed demonstrating the positive impact this has had on retention.

3. In addition, members remarked on the full package of benefits in relation to work and working time directive and reverting to salary percentage increases rather than flat rates across roles.

Tenant Satisfaction Measures

4.  Return rates on tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs) were discussed with some members expressing low return rates where no incentives were offered. Return rates varied from 20-63% which was compared to pre-covid response rates of 80% for one provider.

5. Members discussed the benefits of a blended approach to surveys; online, postal, SMS and telephone follow-up to ensure significant coverage across tenure types and neighbourhoods. This was also linked to mentions of the frequency with which surveys are conducted to reduce survey fatigue.

6. Where incentives were used, shopping vouchers were a popular choice.


7. The group discussed recruitment policies regarding the period of time between colleagues applying for non-executive director roles or similarly a Board member applying for a colleague role. Members agreed that it was best to still apply the principles of schedule 1/probity questions.

Mentoring and coaching

8. Members shared requests for coaching and mentoring for other staff members in their organisations and welcomed recommendations for training courses for company secretary roles.

Housing Ombudsman

9. Members observed the complexity of dealing with the Ombudsman, and some expressed concerns about the fairness and effectiveness of some of the Ombudsman’s decisions. This included warnings of non-compliance orders, being asked to perform tasks apparently outside of their remit or control, and dealing with findings of maladministration. Concerns about the Ombudsman’s understanding of complex issues, their handling of complaints, and their expectations of providers were also discussed.

10. Members suggested presenting a factual summary of problematic cases to the Ombudsman and a meeting with affected parties to discuss the issues. Following this, members pointed out that the National Housing Federation (NHF) is planning to approach the Housing Ombudsman (HO) based on member feedback and is considering running an anonymous sector-wide survey to gather evidence of concerns.

Pets Policy

11. Members discussed the responsibility of managing the risk of dangerous dogs in their properties, with a focus on the challenges of fencing and the financial implications. Balancing tenant safety with the cost and responsibility of improvements, the potential for negative outcomes if a dog were to escape, and the idea of developing a sector-wide policy to address these issues was also debated. The conversation also touched on the role of the Ombudsman and potential repercussions from them if providers took no action.

12. Additionally, members highlighted the need to support traveller communities on their sites in relation to this policy area and recognised the positive impact of pets on tenants’ mental health.

Download the full summary (pdf)


Join the Housing CEO WhatsApp group

The group is open to all housing CEOs who are not yet members.

To join, please contact james.tickell@campbelltickell.com or greg.campbell@campbelltickell.com

For any media enquiries, please email: zina.smith@campbelltickell.com

Housing CEO WhatsApp summary: November – December 2023

A summary of recent discussions on Campbell Tickell’s WhatsApp group for Chief Executives of housing associations and ALMOs

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