Housing CEO WhatsApp summary: March – April 2024

Latest Housing CEO WhatsApp Highlights, March – April 2024

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)

Latest highlights, March – April

Measures relating to staff

  • 1.Most members shared that their organisation would increase their staff salaries by about 5% for 2024/25 from the month of April. Instead of increasing salaries, some organisations opted for a reduced working week of 36.5 hours which is equivalent to a 1.36% rise in hourly rate.
  • A poll was shared in the conversation regarding the frequency of all staff satisfaction surveys, and most respondents usually conduct them once a year or more. Other members also shared alternatives they use to collect staff feedback and highlight cultural issues in the organisation, like ‘Which Emoji’ or ‘The Happiness Index’ and are overall pleased with these services.
  • The group discussed the possibility to adopt the Living Pensions model and what it would imply for their organisations. Some members shared alternative options like offering an attractive market salary to staff and let them choose different pension options and benefits to allow for a more flexible approach.
  • One member asked the group whether other organisations have random drug and alcohol testing in place for their employees, as part of their Health and Safety policies. From the responses, some organisations do carry out random testing, especially of repair staff and staff driving company vehicles, to comply with their duty of care to the general public. Others have a‘ for cause’ testing procedure where they only test employees if the circumstances warrant it or after concerns raised by customers.

New qualifications requirements

  • Concerns were raised about the new qualification requirements for the housing sector and the likely need for some CEOs to undertake the proper qualifications under the new regime.
  • Members discussed what this would imply for CEOs of smaller housing associations and those who have been in this position for decades and might be pushed into retirement early.
  • However, members agree that the professionalisation of the housing sector is broadly a good thing as it will help bring recognition to the profession and encourage the building of trust from customers and the wider population.
  • Members felt that objective research seeking to unravel any differences in the performance of housing associations that are led by a CIH-qualified CEO or by a CEO with no/other qualification might be of interest.

Recruitment processes

  • Discussions revolved around the process followed by different housing associations when recruiting a new Chair and the appropriate degree of involvement of the exiting Chair. Members agree that it is good practice to include the exiting Chair to some extent, but not in the decision-making process, for example by allowing shortlisted candidates to have an informal Q&A with the outgoing Chair who will then feedback to the recruitment panel. This approach seems to strike a good balance according to the members taking part in this conversation.

New consumer regulation

  • Members discussed the attitude to adopt if they find that their organisation is only partially compliant with one or more elements of the new consumer standards and agreed that the best option would be to self-refer to the Regulator in such case. It was also suggested to contact the RSH directly to get their view first and maintain an ongoing dialogue on how to deal with this situation.
  • Members asked whether there was a checklist or template for self-assessment against the new Consumer Standards to help organisations stay on top of the new regulation requirements. One member shared a spreadsheet they have made for Transparency, Influence and Accountability, and CT shared a short summary self-assessment gap analysis template, which is available at Consumer regulation self-assessment | Campbell Tickell | Consultancy & recruitment for the charitable, not-for-profit & public sectors.

Service charge and other costs

  • Some members shared that their organisation had to increase their service charges, which had met with resistance from tenants, especially when combined with rent increases. Other organisations had reduced their service charges as a result of the recent drop in energy prices and the end of the winter period.
  • Members discussed whether housing associations can charge for subject access requests and agreed that only a reasonable fee for administrative costs can be imposed under certain circumstances. However, most members said that they generally don’t charge anything.

Sharing good practices, policies, and contacts

  • The group continues to be a place for members to share policies and strategies. Shared policy learnings included damp and mould policies, ESG policies, data and knowledge management strategies, crisis management policies and communication strategies.
  • The group is also a space for members to ask for recommendations on service providers and network. The following contacts were exchanged: EDI trainer, transformation consultant, health and safety speaker, HR advisor, consultant to carry out salary benchmarking.
  • All members who took part into a poll shared that they abide by the same response time rules for heating/hot water repairs all year round. A few members commented that they sometimes make distinctions based on vulnerability rather than seasons.
  • Members also shared different examples of providing housing for people with no recourse to public funds, which included leasing properties to other organisations or the local authority specifically for that purpose, or having recourse to a home office scheme whereby those people are sponsored by the local community to cover their rent.

 

Group members commemorated the life of Steve Benson, former CEO of Two Saints Housing, former Chair of Croydon Churches HA and Grand Union HG, and former CIH President, who had sadly passed away. Steve had a great impact on the sector and touched many people’s lives, including a number of members of this group. Steve Benson’s funeral took place on Thursday 16th May at the Harbour View Crematorium, Randalls Hill, Lytchett Minster, Dorset.

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: March – April 2024

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

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