Introduction to Governance at Housing 21
Welcome to the Housing 21 Governance Handbook. The purpose of this handbook is to provide support for the Board of Housing 21, its committees, and subsidiaries as they aim for excellence in governance.
All stakeholders have a collective responsibility to uphold high governance standards. This includes the Board, management, employees, and external partners. This commitment aligns with the organisation's chosen code of governance, the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Code of Governance 2020.
Internal processes and procedures support the principles in this handbook. Board members are encouraged to consider their responsibilities as directors of Housing 21 under relevant legislation, applicable Rules, Memorandum and Articles of Association, and terms of reference.
Principles of the Governance Handbook
The Code of Governance and this Handbook are based on four essential principles. These principles define effective organisational governance.
1. Mission and Values
The Board sets and actively promotes Housing 21's social purpose, mission, values, and ambitions. This creates a positive culture with high standards of conduct that protect the organisation's reputation. The Board is accountable to residents and customers.
2. Strategy and Delivery
The Board sets ambitions, plans, and strategies. It monitors the organisation's performance in meeting social and legal obligations. It ensures plans are financially viable and considers value for money, as well as environmental and social sustainability.
3. Board Effectiveness
The Board is appropriately structured with clear roles and responsibilities that enable good governance. It ensures that the Board is skilled and diverse, taking into account the impact of its decisions on the communities where Housing 21 operates.
4. Control and Assurance
The Board actively manages risks faced by the organisation and obtains strong assurance that controls are effective. There are opportunities for concerns to be raised without fear of retaliation.
Housing 21 is a registered provider of social housing, operating as a Community Benefit Society with exempt charitable status. It is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing. Additionally, as a care provider, Housing 21 is regulated by the Care Quality Commission. The organisation's constitution is outlined in the rules.
Housing 21 maintains a straightforward governance structure with three active wholly owned subsidiaries:
- Oldham Retirement Housing Partnership Limited: This Community Benefit Society with exempt charitable status was established for a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project focused on enhancing, maintaining, and managing housing stock in Oldham. The constitution is detailed in its Rules.
- Kent Community Partnership Limited: This Community Benefit Society with exempt charitable status was created for a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project with the goal of developing, owning, and managing housing stock in Kent. Its constitution is outlined in its Rules.
- Housing 21 Guernsey LBG: This subsidiary is tasked with managing and operating a single Extra Care development in Guernsey, operating under different jurisdictional regulations. It operates as a private company limited by guarantee and is incorporated under and subject to the law of the States of Guernsey.
The Board has made a deliberate decision to extend the application of the Code of Governance to Housing 21's subsidiaries. This ensures an effective contribution to the entire group and alignment with its vision, the organisation maintains robust controls. These controls are in place to ensure that subsidiaries are well-managed, operate in compliance with the law, and adhere to the good practice expectations set by their lead regulator.
Terms of reference for each committee provide further details of their roles and responsibilities.
- The Audit and Assurance Committee’s responsibilities include advising the Board on whether there are effective internal controls, an adequate risk management framework and sufficient and objective assurance in place across the activities of Housing 21. The Committee also reviews the effectiveness of both External Audit and Internal Audit.
- The Governance Transformation and Treasury Committee’s responsibilities include reviewing compliance with good governance principles, assessing Board skills and future succession, along with reviewing and approving nominations and remuneration. The committee also oversees Treasury Management and Transformation.
- The Investment and Development Committee reviews specific matters to ensure delivery of our property development and acquisition targets and the asset management strategy whilst maintaining future financial viability. Asset management decisions within the Oldham and Kent PFI schemes rest with the Retirement Living and Extra Care Committees
- The Committees for Extra Care and Retirement Living support, scrutinise, monitor and review the strategic and operational performance and potential of Housing 21’s Extra Care and Retirement Living services
- For Oldham, Kent and Guernsey general Committee business consists of reviewing financial and operational reporting, which includes budget performance and significance of contract deductions, reviewing quality of care or property investment delivery including service demand, and approving the statutory financial statements, and ensuring contract terms are met.
Where a committee has specific oversight of a key area of governance this is documented further throughout the handbook. Membership of committees is determined on the basis of skills, attributes and diverse characteristics as determined by the Board.