The Northern Housing Consortium announces its Chief Executive, Jo Boaden CBE, will retire next Spring

The Northern Housing Consortium has announced that its Chief Executive, Jo Boaden CBE will be retiring in May 2019 after leading the organisation since 2010.

Jo was instrumental in forming the Commission for Housing in the North, bringing together key figures within the housing sector and beyond to highlight Northern housing issues in Westminster, and to open up the debate on regeneration. She was also influential in setting up the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North, ensuring the NHC, as secretariat, brings the housing sector and parliamentarians together to discuss and debate Northern housing policy.

More recently, she led the NHC as they commissioned influential research piece, ‘The Hidden Costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North’, which highlights the increased health impacts of those living in unfit homes.

Jo has tirelessly supported the NHC’s membership to provide a strong Northern voice and was awarded the CBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list in recognition of her services to housing providers in the North, and won the ‘Woman of the Year’ award in the 2018 Women in Housing Awards.

The NHC Board conducted a rigorous recruitment exercise supported by external advisers, and Tracy Harrison, currently Deputy Chief Executive, has been appointed to the post of Chief Executive upon Jo’s retirement.  Prior to joining the NHC in 2006, Tracy held a variety of senior marketing and business development posts in blue chip private sector organisations, including Fast Moving Consumer Goods giant, Robert McBride, and Sage Software. Tracy has been instrumental in growing the NHC’s commercial activities, enabling the NHC to increase its influencing role.

Tom Miskell, Chair, NHC said: “In her time as Chief Executive, Jo has led a successful transformational change agenda to position the NHC as the hugely influential and respected membership body that it is today. She has focused the organisations role in bringing members together with political stakeholders and other key figures in housing.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Jo and know that she will be greatly missed by her colleagues, fellow Board members, and members alike. I’d like to thank Jo for the outstanding job that she has done and will continue to do as she leads the organisation until next year.”

Jo commented: “It has been a real privilege and a great pleasure to work with so many talented and committed people within the NHC, our Board, our membership and beyond. I will miss the NHC but will enjoy watching as Tracy takes the organisation from strength to strength.”





NHC’s new Board members


The NHC were delighted to welcome five new Directors to our Board this autumn, and to have welcomed Barbara Spicer CBE as a co-opted Director in the summer.

The Board meets on a quarterly basis to manage and to set the strategic direction of the organisation. It ensures that policies and procedures are in place to meet core values and objectives and protect the organisational assets. Membership of the Board comprises six to twelve Directors including the Chair and one Vice Chair and up to three Co-Opted Directors, each of whom may sit for a maximum term of six years.

New Directors are appointed from Full member organisations, nominations are reviewed against a skills matrix of existing Directors to ensure that they are suitable to fill any vacancies as well as fully reflecting the sectoral geographical diversity of our membership, and across equality measures.

The NHC always looks for a diverse set of skills among the Directors to ensure a high level of experience in helping to lead the organisation forward as dynamic, agile and robust for the future. The organisation has recently welcomed six Board members with a wealth of experience in finance, housing management, governance, transformation, IT, growth and much more.


Yvonne Castle, Chief Executive, Johnnie Johnson Housing

Yvonne has significant executive experience working in social housing, the private, charity and local authority sectors for many years.

An accountant by profession, her trained ‘lean’ systems thinking and project manager experience sits alongside her love of all things ‘people’ – coaching and mentoring, delivering leadership and management development programmes, motivating and encouraging others to succeed.

Yvonne joined Johnnie Johnson Housing in July 2015 to lead the organisation’s change programme, becoming Chief Executive in 2017. She is also a Board and Audit and Risk Committee Member of a specialist provider of accommodation across Bradford, Calderdale and North Yorkshire.


Simon Costigan, Chief Officer Property and Contracts, Leeds City Council

Simon has worked for Leeds City Council since leaving school and has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience during his 38-year career in housing. Over his extensive career in housing he has been involved in the development of two Estate Management Boards, three individual housing PFI schemes, and recently spent 10 years working for one of the Leeds ALMO’s where he undertook the role of Chief Executive.

Since moving back into the Council five years ago Simon took up his current role and currently manages the City’s Capital Programme, manages the responsive repairs service to the City’s social housing stock of over 55,000 properties and also manages the Internal Service Provider with an annual turnover of £65m.

Simon’s passion is working with communities to improve service outcomes and to make a real difference to the quality of life for residents living in local communities across the City.


Liz Haworth, Group Director, Torus

Liz has worked as a senior leader within the housing sector for 16 years and currently leads on service delivery and transformation for Torus, a large North West housing provider based in Warrington and St Helens. Her previous experience is with local government and the financial services sector.

Liz’s specialisms include: housing management, social investment, neighbourhood management, services for older people and supported housing, development of digital, data and IT strategies, transformation and delivery of efficiency targets, merger and integration.

She is particularly passionate about creating an organisation that is fit for the future, both in the way that it provides services to tenants, and the way it creates a working environment that is engaging and energising for employees.

Liz has served on a supported housing provider board and more recently as a Board Member of St Helens Chamber.


Ian Wardle, Chief Executive, Thirteen Group


Ian has provided leadership and direction for a range of complex services, projects and initiatives including working for two local authorities, a large multi-national PLC housebuilder, an arms-length public-private regeneration agency and currently he leads North East based housing association Thirteen Group.

Ian started his career in the North East as a graduate trainee at George Wimpey (now Taylor Wimpey) in Middlesbrough, moving onto the Sunniside Partnership in Sunderland and Director of Regeneration at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

In April 2018 he took over as the secretary for Homes for the North which is an alliance of almost 20 large housing associations who want to deliver more homes across the North of England.

He cares passionately about the quality of life housing can provide. The delivery of high-quality homes and services has been the foundation of his working life and a key feature throughout his career over the last 20 years.


Lee Sugden, Chief Executive, Salix Homes

A qualified accountant, Lee has worked in housing for over 25 years in a variety of senior roles developing new and innovative solutions to housing problems. He is currently the Chief Executive of North West based housing provider Salix Homes after joining in 2014 to lead the organisation following the transfer of homes from Salford City Council, shaping the business to ensure it plays a full role in the transformation of the City of Salford.

He has played a Non-Executive role for a variety of other organisations including housing providers, local authorities and a further education college.


Barbara Spicer CBE, Chief Executive, Plus Dane

Barbara Spicer CBE is Chief Executive of Plus Dane – a housing association working across Merseyside and Cheshire with 13,500 homes.

Barbara worked for 20 years in local government, eight years of which were spent as Chief Executive of Salford City Council where she led key developments in the city, including the bid to relocate the BBC to Salford Quays at MediaCity UK, creating a development of international significance.

Passionate about the skills agenda, Barbara spent time in Westminster as interim Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency. She currently holds the position of Mayoral Advisor for Social Housing Growth at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and sits on the UK Capital of Culture Panel.

Her strong belief is that there are two things that are vitally important to the wellbeing of any individual: a real job with prospects and a decent home; Barbara has spent the vast majority of her career focused on trying to deliver those things for, and with, people who sometimes find it hard to deliver them for themselves, and using those two levers successfully to create sustainable communities.

Tracy Harrison speaking at EvoNorth

Our Deputy Chief Executive Tracy Harrison will be speaking at EvoNorth.

EvoNorth, taking place on 27-28 Feb 2019 is a two day conference, exhibition and networking dinner dedicated to championing the Northern Powerhouse.

Over the next four years, the Northern Powerhouse will spend £150bn on healthcare, £45bn on schools and education, £70bn on transport and connectivity and £1.4bn on housing and infrastructure, all alongside investments in other areas including science, business and innovation.

EvoNorth is encouraging collaboration by uniting leaders shaping the Northern Powerhouse to create a solid blueprint for future generations to come.

Partake in lively and engaging Q&As, dynamic round table discussions, thought-provoking and inspiring workshops and exhibitions, participate in powerful leader debates and have your voice heard.

Discussing topics from across these key focuses;

  • Transport and Connectivity
  • Business, Innovation and Investment
  • Science and Technology
  • Housing and Infrastructure
  • Education, Skills and Employment
  • Health, Social Care and Wellbeing

Fuel the conversation: visit the website here.

Consultations following Budget 2018

On the day of Budget 2018, government launched a number of consultations with the sector to support its target for housing supply to reach 300,000 a year.

If you are responding to any of the consultations, it would be helpful if you could provide us with a copy of your consultation response.


Changes to planning policy and guidance including the standard method for assessing local housing need

The publication of new household projections by the Office for National Statistics has led to a significant reduction in the overall numbers generated by the standard method for assessing local housing need.  This consultation sets out proposals to update planning practice guidance on housing need assessment to be consistent with increasing housing supply.

This consultation also proposes clarifications of national planning policy on: housing land supply; the definition of deliverable; and appropriate assessment.

The consultation document is available here and is open until 7th December 2018.


Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes

Building on existing planning reforms, the government is consulting on new and amended permitted development rights and changes to use classes, including to support the regeneration of the high street and to extend existing buildings upwards to create new homes.



  • Do you think there is a role for permitted development rights to provide homes by extending properties upwards?
  • Do you think there should be a new permitted development right to allow hot food takeaways to change to residential use?

Let us know how you intend to respond to these questions.  Please forward your comments to

The consultation document is available here and is open until 14th January 2019


Private shared homeownership: call for proposals

The government is seeking proposals to provide new routes into affordable home ownership.  This call for proposals covers three categories:

 private shared ownership which would be primarily privately funded

  • other private affordable homeownership products which should be primarily privately funded
  • other innovative routes into homeownership which do not require government investment but may require the removal of regulatory or other barriers

The consultation document is available here and is open until 1st February 2019

If you have any queries on any of these documents please get in touch with



NHC Social Housing Green Paper Consultation Response

The Green Paper, ‘a new deal for social housing’ sets out some significant opportunities and challenges which go to the heart of the purpose of social housing.

During the open consultation period the NHC travelled to all three regions in the North to speak to its members in detail about the proposals and what this means for the future of the social housing sector and what this means for Northern providers.

The consultation is now closed and the NHC response is here. This is very much an ongoing piece of work. The Government will respond to the consultation responses in the new year and we will continue the dialogue with our members as the outcome of this national debate on social housing continues.

Where is the investment in Northern housing?

Monday’s Budget brought the expectation of a nationwide boost to house-building.  With an announcement of an extra £500m funding to pay for the support structure that allows the building of new homes, it was a welcome announcement to deliver a boost to supply.

Just a few days later it is alarming news that Northern authorities will only be able to access a maximum of 20% of this new funding.  80% of all funding across all Government schemes for house building will be going to areas of “high affordability.”   This will exclude funding support for most of the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber.

Jo Boaden, Chief Executive of the NHC said “It seems that funding to meet house-building ambitions is a ‘geographic’ issue, not a nationwide issue, with the vast proportion of the funding going to the South”.

Homes England’s 5 year strategic plan launched today announces that it will “play a major role in making the housing market work for everyone.”  The geographical targeting of funding to the South across 5 housing programmes draws stark attention to the North / South divide.

There are areas of the North facing severe constraints with additional targeted investment needed to support major development programmes.   The national focus on a certain definition of affordability prevents different housing markets from tackling unique challenges.

National policies must be flexible to target specific local issues – market access in unaffordable markets and housing quality and renewal in more affordable ones – this will ensure that funding is directed where it is most needed, improving value for money and making more of a dent in the housing crisis.

The housing deficit isn’t just in new supply; it is also to be seen in the quality and age of the existing housing stock, with large quantities of pre-war terraced housing.   Investment to bring brownfield land to market is perhaps the single most important immediate measure that could be taken to accelerate the public sector delivery of new homes in the North.

Jo Boaden said “It is in areas where private sector investment has been weakest where there has been far less public infrastructure investment.  Regional inequality in public infrastructure investment could mean that it becomes more challenging to attract other investment in housing.

“Government must ensure the investment plan can meet the scale of investment needs in all parts of the country, not just in areas of highest affordability pressure.”

NHC Chief Exec Jo Boaden awarded Woman of the Year

NHC Chief Executive Jo Boaden wins Woman of the Year at the Women in Housing Awards.

The Women in Housing Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding women working in housing. Organised by Inside Housing and the Chartered Institute of Housing, this year saw the introduction of a new Woman of the Year category to recognise a truly inspirational ambassador for women in housing. Jo Boaden was surprised and delighted to win Woman of the Year (under 10,000 homes).

Jo has been an inspiration to women within the organisation and the wider housing sector. She has demonstrated incredible achievement and has encouraged a culture of progression through leadership training, coaching and mentoring schemes. She is a fantastic advocate for women working to develop their careers in housing.

Recently Jo joined the Board as Chair for Your Homes Newcastle and in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list, Jo was awarded a CBE in recognition of services to housing providers in the North.

Jo said:

“I was surprised but extremely proud to receive this inspirational award, I am hugely supported by a fantastic team around me who work tirelessly to provide our members with an excellent service.”

Geraldine Howley, CEX, Incommunities said:

“Jo Boaden is the perfect role model for women seeking a career in the higher levels of leadership. She has led the transformation of the Consortium into a modern member-led organisation and set an excellent example of inclusive and inspiring leadership.

Tom Miskell, NHC Chair said:

“Jo is extremely hard working and her enthusiasm shines through for all to see. She is a skilled political operator and uses this to maximum effect to champion housing in the North.”

Jo is clearly passionate about making a difference; her well-deserved CBE recognised her hard work and achievements and winning Woman of the Year has been another highlight of a busy year for Jo.

New report finds 1 million home owners in the North are living in poor quality housing

A new study highlights there are 1 million non-decent owner-occupied homes in the North – and a further 345,000 private rented sector properties that are unfit and fail to meet the decent homes standard.
Worryingly, of those 1 million homes, over half are occupied by at least one person over 60 or with a long-term illness or disability.

The report: The Hidden costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North, was commissioned by the NHC and written by the Smith Institute, an independent public policy think tank. It highlights the scale of the problem and the increased health impacts of those living in homes that are not fit for purpose.

Despite an older housing stock, the North has made good progress in reducing the number of non-decent homes, with huge improvement made to the social housing stock over the past twenty years.
However, lack of investment for private housing, particularly for older people, is starting to reverse the trend so the level of unfit homes is increasing.

It is well known that poor condition housing harms people’s health and well-being. It also carries considerable costs for the NHS and social care system, as well as negative economic, welfare and environmental impacts.
Owner occupiers are often seen as asset rich and having the means to repair, improve or adapt their homes. However, this study shows that too many areas of the North have low value, poor quality houses with little or no equity – a situation that has not changed since the financial crisis 10 years ago.

The report suggests that the challenges could be addressed by increased support for home improvement under a new Decent Private Homes programme and new devolution housing deals. Stock condition surveys could evaluate the potential costs and savings. This then could be part funded by recycling identified savings into local or city region funding pots for home improvements, or for older people to be given the choice to move to a property that better suits their needs. New devolution deals could accelerate this work.

Jo Boaden, Chief Executive, NHC said:

“We are acutely aware that new homes are urgently needed across the North and there has been an understandable focus on finding ways to achieve this. However, new supply in the North accounts for less than 1% of the North’s housing stock and so we cannot forget about the critical importance of maintaining, improving or adapting existing homes.”

Paul Hackett, Director, the Smith institute said:

“The number of retired homeowners living in non-decent properties is alarming. All the focus has been on increasing housing supply, and not enough attention has been given to the quality of existing homes. Urgent action is needed across the North to tackle the problem of disrepair. Perhaps it is time for a Decent Homes programme for the North, focused on helping low income older homeowners?”

In the coming months, the NHC will be working with members and stakeholders to open up the debate to help find creative solutions to these problems. Further work will be carried out to highlight the clear links between poor quality housing and the impact it has on older people’s health and ability to stay in their homes for longer.

The study was sponsored by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Karbon Homes.

Read a copy of the report here.


NHC reaction to Social Housing Green Paper

At face value, the proposals laid out in the Green Paper provide a leap in the right direction from the Government towards improving the state and perception of social housing with a raft of detail exploring: the supply and quality of social homes, the rights of tenants, some of the stigmas associated with social housing tenants, service management, safety issues and the wider issues of community and the local neighbourhood.

There is much in the detail that will be pleasing to housing providers — the focus on decent homes and thriving communities and reversing the decline in council housing — reflecting calls the NHC has been making over the past months and years.

There are of course areas that may be of concern in the Green Paper — little emphasis on the funding for supply of homes for social rent, and continued emphasis on home ownership at the expense of other forms of tenure.

We are looking to the Green Paper to deliver solutions to access to truly affordable housing, quality in the rented sector, stability, and sustainability for providers.

A sentiment that we have repeated many times is the need to ensure that housing reforms do not wholly focus on new homes. The Green Paper appears to lack any real commitment to improving existing homes, in terms of revitalising communities and has only limited proposals for decent standards.  With an increasingly ageing population there will be a substantial need for supported housing improvements to existing dwellings. There is an important opportunity for the Green Paper to explicitly recognise this and to move away from “one size fits all” approaches which are not appropriate in many Northern areas.

The NHC believes there is value in developing a clear national strategy to set out overall objectives in terms of the quantity, quality and access to housing for which we are striving.  This would provide a framework for devolved approaches with the flexibility and capacity to allow localities to develop their own solutions backed by a single place based resource stream.

There is little emphasis in the Green Paper on solutions.  This is a very Green Paper – opening the door for considerable debate within the sector.   We must grasp that opportunity.

There remain long-term challenges for the sector in being part of the solution to the housing crisis – this is just the start.