Friday, October 10, 2008

Non-customers having a role in governance: is that news?

Midland Heart have issued an intriguing press release: "For the first time, a housing association will include non-residents alongside existing customers on a unique decision-making body, giving them powers to shape the delivery of services."

For some time (to be precise, forever) almost all housing association boards have had a non-resident majority. Board members, like myself, have never had the social housing resident experience – and that can be a problem. Having accountants, bankers, lawyers, etc on boards is great in terms of professional experience, skills and “competences” but do some of us bring other baggage and lack some of the most relevant experience?

I don't think that Midland Heart’s press release is actually talking about boards. As always the devil is in the detail. I presume that Midland Heart are creating arrangements for accountability and scrutiny of service delivery - perhaps based on the Chartered Institute of Housing's model. If so, it all makes sense and should be welcomed.

The challenge of meaningful customer involvement remains for all public services.

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