September’s Annual General Meeting confirmed some important changes at Your Homes Newcastle, the organisation that manages Newcastle’s 26,000 council homes.

Jo Boaden, the distinguished and experienced Chief Executive at Northern Housing Consortium, was officially appointed as the Chair of YHN Board.  Her appointment was accompanied by some radical changes to YHN’s governance structure, meaning it can respond more quickly to the challenges faced by social housing providers, whilst remaining focused on achieving positive outcomes for customers.

Operating against a backdrop of financial pressures and changes within social housing, existing arms-length management organisations such as YHN are having to change the way they work to remain relevant.

A comprehensive governance review of YHN’s Board was undertaken to ensure the organisation was fit for purpose, the Board was more agile and strategic and reflected best practice elsewhere in the sector.

At their Annual General Meeting, YHN Board replaced the large board of 19, based on equal constituencies (six independents, six councilors, six tenants and a Chair) with a skills-based Board, with a membership of 12. This includes four reserved places for council nominees and eight places for independents, including the Chair.

In addition to Jo Boaden, YHN welcomes to the Board; Helen Simpson, Richard Clark OBE, and Kevin Lowry. The new board members bring to the organisation a wealth of housing, regeneration, strategic and business development skills.

Another radical change following the review is the way customers will inform the decision-making process and hold the Board to account. A new Customer Services Committee, made up of tenants and chaired by a tenant is being introduced with direct interaction with the Board to facilitate active accountability and influence.

YHN is confident that the combination of a more agile, skills-based Board at the helm of a simplified governance structure will enable it to continue transforming its services and embed a collaborative, customer-focused culture throughout the organisation.