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Reflections on NHF Board Excellence Conference

SfH board member David Cleary shares his reflections from the National Housing Federation’s Board Excellence Conference.

I had a fantastic two days catching up with chairs and senior non-executive directors from across the housing sector at the NHF’s Board Excellence Conference in Manchester last week.

Given the housing crisis and impending General Election, day one was dominated by discussion and debate regarding the political landscape and achieving sector wide engagement with politics.

It was noted that whilst housing underpins the social ecosystem it fails to register in the top four voter concerns. It is likely that with private sector rents and increased mortgage rates, housing is likely to be incorporated under ‘cost of living’ which remains the number one issue.  

Whatever the outcome of the election, there is likely to be a significant number of new MPs at Westminster, a new generation is appearing and it is key that all involved with the sector engage.

Day one closed with a great session including Kate Henderson, Mike Amesbury MP, Rabina Khan and Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani exploring ideas to solve the housing crisis.

Questions focused the vision for UK housing as well as reforming the housing ecosystem from planning to pension reform, the latter to reduce second home ownership as a financial investment. One standout for me was the quote ‘you’ll never have hope, you’ll never have dreams, if you don’t have a home’.

Day two moved onto the economy and tenant well-being, highlighting the work of the SRS in driving standards across the E, S and G. The upcoming consumer regulation is at the forefront of minds albeit boards are still focused on fire safety, tenant well-being and then decarbonisation and delivery of new homes, in that order. There are lots of competing priorities from a finance and human resource perspective!