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A Christmas Message from NHC Chief Executive Jo Boaden

jo-boadenAs 2016 draws to a close there will be many things we will reflect upon – significant political developments both nationally and internationally, a recognition that housing should be seen as part of the nation’s infrastructure needs, the planned creation of a separate regulator for the social housing sector, changes to the Housing & Planning Act and many many more.

One of the highlights of the year for me has been the work of the Commission for Housing in the North and I’d like to thank those members who have supported the Commission. You have all given your time and expertise to help shape what I hope is a powerful voice for the North and the springboard for us to secure the right framework to deliver the right homes in the right places. I was pleased that the residential offer element of the Northern Powerhouse Strategy echoed the work of the Commission in so many ways.

It was not just the outputs of the Commission that I valued so much but also the way in which it represented how the NHC can and will be working. At its heart was the NHC acting to connect members which each other and with new partners or stakeholders. The Commission has also demonstrated the value that we can drive by ensuring we are close to our members, engaged with you across all aspects of your businesses.

I am looking forward to continuing this approach in 2017 and we have reshaped the way in which we work to ensure we can be in the best place to support you in achieving your aspirations.

On behalf of everyone at the NHC I wish you a Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017.

February 2016

The Northern Housing Summit is just around the corner and I look forward to welcoming you to Manchester as we meet to debate “Delivering the Northern Powerhouse: the role of housing”. This year we have two themes running through the Summit – unlocking investment and delivery in the north and delivering public sector reform. Both will be fascinating and have come up several times in discussions with NHC members as part of our work on the NHC Commission for Housing in the North (and more of that shortly!)

I’m delighted that we’ve got as usual an excellent array of speakers for the conference – including an opportunity to hear from several branches of government – we have Simon Ridley, the Director General  for Decentralisation and Growth. I met with Simon not long after his appointment and we discussed the need to rebalance the UK economy and how housing can contribute to drive up productivity across the North. This issue highlights the changing skill sets the sector may need to unlock investment opportunities as they flow into the North (or flow out if we’re not ready to capitalise on them…) I expect Paul Marsh of UKTI will also address this topic at the Summit as he talks about the scale of investment packages that he believes are available to the North. As with the NHC Commission for Housing in the North, the Northern Summit is not just about listening to government policy. It is absolutely about promoting the innovation that is happening across the North – in local government, the social housing sector and the private sector. Whilst promoting the great work that you do remains at the heart of the NHC, we also want to ensure that the NHC – both as an organisation and in our wider collective capacity and influence of our members – brings scale and agility to these innovative approaches.

The Northern Housing Summit is a timely event for us as it will take place shortly before the NHC Commission for Housing in the North issues its interim report. As you know we’ve been meeting with NHC members to get your input into the Commission  alongside taking evidence from a range of witnesses including UKTI, Andrew Standford (La Salle Investment Management), Grainger PLC, Sir Bob Kerslake, the CBI, and QSH to name but a few.

Some consistent themes are beginning to emerge from the work of the Commission – the need to place housing as part of the productivity debate, the benefits of collaborative working, the need for the sector to recalibrate its approach to risk and reward, the capacity challenge we face and how to resolve it. I’ve been struck when meeting with both witnesses and NHC members by the level of enthusiasm there is for the very real opportunities that are open to the north. That is not to downplay the challenges we will face in other markets and we will need to be realistic but optimistic, creative and agile to drive forward our ambitions. But the message I’m hearing from members is that the NHC Commission presents a real opportunity to shape our northern housing futures and we intend to fully grasp this.

See you in Manchester!