Tuesday, 16 June 2015


At the moment I'm standing for election to the CIH North West Regional Board.  If you've had an invite to vote, then I'd be ever so grateful if you'd cast your vote for me.

Obviously you don't have to, and I've no way of knowing if you have or haven't, but I think you should, and in this Blog I'll try to explain why.

The CIH NW Regional Board sets out on its website its main purpose: "We believe that access to decent, affordable housing in safe, prosperous places that respect the environment really makes a difference to individuals, families and communities in the North West. We work to make this a reality in our region."

That's a really noble cause.  According to statistics, the population in the North West is set to grow by 3.6% by 2022, of which 20% will be people aged 65+.  Its estimated that almost 20,000 new homes will be needed across the region to meet this population growth, and there was already a shortfall to begin with.  House prices in the region are below the national average but there are significant affordability problems in some pockets of the region.  Whilst there's plenty of private rented accommodation available, it is estimated that an income of £30,000 is required to do this comfortably, and less than 40% of the region's population attain that salary level.

The NW Board have accurately summarised what they feel the region needs:
  • Increased investment through grant funding to deliver greater numbers of new social homes, to improve affordability
  • Increased investment in low cost home ownership/ shared ownership
  • Raise the borrowing cap to allow local authorities to build more homes
  • Review the right to buy to ensure that it delivers a 1 for 1 replacement of a social home
  • Incentivise new players into development including small and medium enterprises – this will also support local economics and job opportunities
  • Measures to unlock more land for housing development
  • Incentivise landlords in the private rented sector to provide more stable/longer term lettings and to increase quality
  • Ensure that we build not just numbers but homes that will meet the needs of current and future populations, including addressing the size of new homes, the ability to adapt for future needs (Lifetime homes standard) and specialist homes.

Again, this is easy to understand and is a cause I'd be happy to champion if elected.  I think my network of contacts both online and face to face would enable me to reach areas and sectors that have not been touched previously, and when combined with my CIPD Ambassador status I may be in a unique position to bring the HR and Housing sectors together and highlight the good work going on in each to the other.

Torus is uniquely placed as a new and powerful player in the region to influence and directly impact many of these aims, so I'll be able to bring some of that knowledge and influence to bear within Torus and within the CIH NW Regional Board.

I've been involved with the CIH for 11 years now since I entered the housing sector but my involvement has been limited to HR and people-type issues, so its about time I started widening my contributions as I think I've got a lot to offer.

Since 2005 I've been involved in the delivery of CIH qualifications, both in GGHT as an accredited centre and directly via CIH Distance Learning.  I've tutored over 150 students in learning about housing - most of these have been GGHT employees but many have gone on to other organisations - and some have been from other NW-based housing organisations.  The Distance Learning students have been nationally based.  So I've had exposure to lots of ideas about housing and how it can be improved both regionally and nationally, and could be in a position to influence that even more via the NW Regional Board, bringing an element of housing professional education into the mix and spreading ideas via learning aswell as other means.

As an HR professional I think I can also offer a different insight into housing, having worked outside housing for half of my career.  Like HR, housing tends to be low down on schoolchildrens' career choice - its not something anyone ever tends to mention when making GCSE or A-level choices, and I can't recall talking to anyone about going into HR or housing when I grew up.

In fact I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

When I was younger I wanted to be a professional wrestler for the WWE (then WWF), or perhaps a professional footballer but only for Manchester United.  As I turn 40 in a month, I think both of these may now be beyond me although I've not given up hope yet.

But housing does offer a lot to those looking for a prospective career.  Its progressive, reasonably high profile, offers a great deal of individual satisfaction and empowerment, and seems to be grasping the opportunities that new technology provides to interact with customers and colleagues.  Housing probably offers everything except really good pay, and that's something that won't change overnight but in all my dealings with housing students, none of them have been too bothered about pay either - think Herzberg's theory of motivation (Motivators and Hygiene Factors), something I use with students often to explain why they chose housing as a career.  But I don't think housing sells itself and its plus points enough, and that's something I'm keen to develop on the regional board.

Beyond HR though I think I could bring a fair bit of experience to the regional board, if elected.  I've been a key part of the teams that led GGHT to 3 stars excellent prospects from the Audit Commission, and one of the more successful stock transfers in the North West.  I've been part of the teams that saw GGHT gain G1/V1 ratings from the HCA and deliver 95% of offer document promises.  I also oversaw the creation of GGHT's initial involvement in worklessness and employment initiatives, and was part of the team that saw GGHT being the first to achieve the HDN SHEF framework.

But I digress.

I've a lot of thoughts on how housing (and employers in general) need to rethink their approach to workforce management and talent attraction in the future, and will cover this in a future blog post.

Right now I'm hoping the election, which closes on 19 June, goes my way and I'm able to enhance and promote the good work the CIH NW Regional Board are already doing.

Fingers crossed.

Till next time...


PS in other news, the holiday/flights/honeymoon that surround the wedding are ALMOST booked and we've paid the deposit on the wedding - its getting closer!

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