Hi! Just a quick note from me to provide you with an update on what I have been doing this last couple of months.

We had a Board meeting in early August, which was the first time that the new Board members had come together in person since being appointed in June. We had to sign off some important documents, including the exclusivity agreement with Legal and General Affordable Homes for College Bank and the annual financial statements, as well as receiving updates on tenant services, the recovery plan, and a number of compliance and assurance reports.

After the Board, we discussed areas to prioritise for future board meetings and workshops, including our existing stock of homes, business planning and stress testing, our risk appetite, regulatory recovery, operational performance, culture, and ICT.

As you will know we are proposing some rule changes to the way that the organisation is governed, and we are engaging with Members about these at the moment. The governance changes will assist us in moving from our current position as a non-compliant housing association towards compliance, and I have discussed these with several tenant and employee members and also sat in on briefing sessions with the Board and the Representative Body on the proposed changes. This is a really important milestone for us as we progress our journey towards regulatory compliance, and I hope that you will be able to support our proposals. I have recorded a short video with more information about this.

I attended the National Housing Federation Summit in Birmingham on the 12th September where I presented a “How do you know what you don’t know” session which involved me being interviewed on stage in what was billed as a “fireside chat”. The session seemed to go down well with the audience and got a balanced review in Inside Housing.

18th September was a key milestone for us and an exciting day as Amanda joined us officially to start her role as Chief Executive. I know that she has hit the ground running and will be a formidable asset to RBH. Another key milestone that week was our first ever meeting of the new Customer Services Committee chaired by Tim Weightman – I’m delighted that we have managed to get this vitally important Board committee up and running so quickly. This will in time provide key assurances to the board for customer facing services and provides another important step towards recovering our regulatory compliance. We’re currently looking for three customer members to join the committee.

We had our Annual Members Meeting on 25th September which was a hybrid meeting with some members joining remotely with the rest of us in the UEC conference room. All went smoothly thanks to the Governance Team!  

We had another busy Board meeting last Thursday, 27th September. Ben Smith presented an update on the ICT Strategy which underlined the critical importance of dependable data to the business. We received an update on College Bank and have agreed to put aside a Board half day in November to review and scrutinise the proposals in detail, supported by a Board sub group which will meet in October. We allocated a significant amount of time to consider our financial performance and agreed to return to this in November to more forensically examine the pressures, risks and mitigations to the financial year end. We looked at assurance reports including asset compliance and the Recovery Plan as well as discussing the Consumer Regulation consultation and a Tenant Services update. Savills presented their Landlord Compliance Review and Data Assessment feedback which provided significant assurance to the Board with several significant areas of strength and good practice, including employee competence and commitment. The Board were anxious to pass on their thanks to colleagues for a great outcome.

Looking to the month ahead, we have a joint Board and Representative Body session this week to consider the rule changes, and also a meeting with Rochdale Council Chief Executive, Steve Rumbelow. Amanda and I will be leading a couple of discussions with North West housing associations on lessons learnt, and I will be joining the next North West Chairs Network meeting which is facilitated by the Regulator for Social Housing. I will feedback on any key issues or messages when I next update.

Suffice to say it has been a busy period but from my perspective it feels like we are making good progress on our recovery journey – let’s keep at it!