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Paul Griffiths, public service consultant, reported on his research into housing association governance at the CHC conference February 29 2008

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  1. 1. Community Housing Cymru Review of Governance Paul Griffiths Public Service Consultant
  2. 2. Context of Review <ul><li>A higher political priority for affordable housing </li></ul><ul><li>The case for more focussed external regulation – the Essex Review </li></ul><ul><li>The need for external confidence in self-regulation </li></ul>
  3. 3. Review Method <ul><li>Short and sharp - 2 months, 30 days </li></ul><ul><li>A study of 3 Associations </li></ul><ul><li>Interview of at least one member of most other boards </li></ul><ul><li>Learning from this Conference </li></ul>
  4. 4. Board Membership Tenant Members <ul><li>Committed and well supported </li></ul><ul><li>Provide the essential ‘citizen focus’ – housing associations can be the beacon of Welsh public services </li></ul><ul><li>Need to be rooted in a well supported network of groups and panels </li></ul><ul><li>Can be recruited where the roots are strong and well nourished – advantage of a community basis? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Board Membership ‘Professional’ Members <ul><li>A reasonable balance of skills and expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Widespread commitment and motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Open recruitment is bearing fruit </li></ul><ul><li>Open recruitment is consistent with pro-active marketing of opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘tap on the shoulder’ and ratification by shareholders is not legitimate!? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Board Membership ‘Partnership’ Members <ul><li>Appointments based on member’s position within local authority or health organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Can provide valuable links and relationship building with partners </li></ul><ul><li>Only succeeds on the basis of shared investment in partnership working </li></ul><ul><li>Personalities matter </li></ul>
  7. 7. Do Boards Make a Difference? Strategic Direction <ul><li>A Clear Diversity of Strategy – community basis, market led, extra care/residential care, special needs, homelessness, working with private landlords, developing home ownership, community regeneration. </li></ul><ul><li>Whose strategy? – evidence of Boards providing initiative and a brake </li></ul><ul><li>Significance of Away- Days </li></ul>
  8. 8. Do Boards Make a Difference? Challenging Performance <ul><li>Regular performance reporting </li></ul><ul><li>How well is information presented and used? </li></ul><ul><li>Some evidence of performance monitoring changing practice </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Support and Challenge’, ‘Critical Friend’ </li></ul><ul><li>Is there enough ‘grit in the system’? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Do Boards make a Difference? Financial Management <ul><li>Significance of specialist board members </li></ul><ul><li>Significance of internal and external auditors to support boards </li></ul><ul><li>The check of the lenders </li></ul><ul><li>The importance of the non-specialist </li></ul><ul><li>The biggest risk to reputations? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Do Boards Make a Difference? Setting the tone, values, culture <ul><li>Boards do not manage staff </li></ul><ul><li>Boards appoint the chief executive </li></ul><ul><li>Can boards develop some relationship with staff, sufficient to influence attitudes? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Do Boards Make a Difference? Developing Partnerships <ul><li>Responding to housing needs, meeting care needs, giving confidence and skills to communities – all require effective partnerships. </li></ul><ul><li>Are the Board the outward face of the Association – making the external and political relationships? </li></ul><ul><li>Is partnership what the chief executive does? </li></ul>
  12. 12. A New Model of Self Regulation? <ul><li>WAG sets out clear expectations of Boards on the self-assessment of performance and the evaluation of developments </li></ul><ul><li>The Boards create procedures and implement them in meeting WAG expectations </li></ul>
  13. 13. A New Model of Self Regulation? <ul><li>The external regulator monitors the process of self regulation and the results </li></ul><ul><li>External appraisal is ‘risk based’ – focussing on lapses in process and declared gaps in performance </li></ul><ul><li>External appraisal has a focus on the ‘big picture’ – the synergies and viability of medium and long term development plans </li></ul>
  14. 14. Learning from each other <ul><li>Despite CHC Conferences, Boards are not good at learning from each other? </li></ul><ul><li>“ We get comparative information from our chief executive” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Competition gets in the way of shared learning” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Shared learning takes too much time” </li></ul><ul><li>What potential for the Steve Cranston web-based conversations? – could you provide another beacon for Welsh public services? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Giving the public confidence <ul><li>The public do not understand what RSL Boards are? </li></ul><ul><li>Does this matter? </li></ul><ul><li>It does, if you want to self regulate the use of public money in achieving public goals </li></ul><ul><li>How can Boards have a more transparent public profile? </li></ul>