Hi everyone, this is my last update for the year. It’s been a fairly busy last couple of months continuing the improvement journey we have been on since I joined RBH in April.

Amanda and I shared our ‘lessons learnt’ with a number of housing associations at two sessions hosted by the Northern Housing Consortium and Ward Hadaway in Leeds and Manchester in October, where we received very positive feedback from attendees.

The Board was delighted that the rule changes that we proposed were accepted by the membership in November, creating a solid foundation for our return to compliance against the governance standards. The changes have been approved by the Financial Conduct Authority and so we are now progressing matters in conjunction with our Representative Body colleagues to begin to cement the changes into the way we conduct business going forward. There has been some noise in the sector around these changes which I have to say in my opinion were unbalanced and grossly misrepresented what we were actually proposing. Regardless, we move on and upwards!

The Board has been busy with a full Board meeting in November as well as two special meetings. We held a risk workshop in the hour before starting the Board agenda which was fairly packed - covering items around the business plan, consumer standards response, the recovery plan, health and safety, risk, assurance and compliance and stock condition survey update. The first special meeting concerned College Bank / Seven Sisters where the Board was able to get into the detail of the various options including risk and exposure. The second special meeting focused on our finances and in-year pressures and controls.

Personal development has always been important to me and last month I was enrolled on a day’s media training alongside some of the senior management team. I have to say the training was without doubt the best media training I have ever done.

Amanda and I had a fantastic tour of our stock last week led by Neil Hill who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of housing across Rochdale. Neil was able to bring to life the challenges and opportunities across RBH’s stock, sharpening my understanding. Big thanks to Neil for taking the time to drive us around.

Last week the Board had a hugely productive joint session with the Representative Body exploring our values and behaviours and reviewing our strategy and corporate plan for 2024. This is a critically important piece of work that will help to reset the organisation with very clear and simple strategic objectives. Many colleagues will have engaged with the Culture Survey which is currently underway and I would encourage those who haven’t yet completed the survey to do so and have your views heard. The survey is completely confidential – it’s vitally important that the Board, Rep Body and Executive Team get to hear the voices of as many employees as possible. Ark Consulting will be running customer workshops in the New Year and we will also be looking to garner views from key stakeholders.

We continue to meet periodically with our stakeholders including Rochdale Borough Council. Amanda and I met with Steve Rumbelow, Chief Executive in October and we are scheduled to meet the Leader of the Council, Councillor Emmott, the Portfolio Holder Councillor Meredith, and Steve this week before the Christmas break. It’s really important that we develop a productive working relationship between RBH and the Council.

As we enter the festive period, I would like to wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.