To consider a proposal to remove the Council’s nominations to two Director Positions on the South Lakes Housing Board.
Note - Councillor John Holmes, for the purpose of transparency, indicated that he was a former Director of South Lakes Housing and Councillor Suzie Pye explained that she was a tenant of South Lakes Housing, however that she was not biased or predetermined.
The Housing Portfolio Holder presented a report advising of a proposal from South Lakes Housing which aimed to strengthen its Board. South Lakes Housing sought to remove the Council’s nomination to two Director positions, enabling the organisation to adopt a skills based approach to the whole of its Board appointments. South Lakes Housing proposed further relationship measures which would continue to build a strategic relationship between the Council and South Lakes Housing in the pursuit of the provision and management of affordable housing in the District.
Councillor John Holmes, a former appointee of the Council to the Board of South Lakes Housing, commended the proposal. He drew attention to the future move to a Unitary Authority and to the different mix of social housing provision of Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland. He expressed appreciation for the agreement between South Lakeland and South Lakes Housing for returns from Right to Buy being ring-fenced to remain available for affordable housing, however, expressed concern about how this fund would fare following the amalgamation of the three councils. The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland and Innovation Portfolio Holder hoped that Local Government Reorganisation would provide a great opportunity for the delivery of social housing. He reassured Members that the Council would discuss with South Lakes Housing how best to position the organisation for the future and in terms of Right to Buy receipts.
RESOLVED – That
(1) approval be given for the Council to relinquish its nomination rights to the Board of Directors of South Lakes Housing;
(2) the removal of the Council’s shareholder voting rights as a consequence of regulatory requirements be noted;
(3) approval be given for the Council to inform South Lakes Housing of its position so that South Lakes Housing may put the proposed changes before its Annual General Meeting planned for September 2021; and
(4) the approaches described in the report (paragraph 3.10) to ensure a continued strategic relationship between South Lakes Housing and the Council be endorsed.
Reasons for Decision
South Lakes Housing is seeking the Council’s approval of a change to the organisation’s constitution which will result in strengthening of its Board, with all appointments becoming skills and experience based. South Lakes Housing is seeking the change in order to build further strength and resilience within the organisation, improving its provision and management of affordable housing in the District.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Cabinet could refuse to relinquish the Council’s nominations of Directors to SLH Board. This would be contrary to the intention of the housing Regulator to ensure Regulated Providers (SLH) act with full independence. It would also constrain SLH in their recruitment of a 100% skills based Board which may impact on their ability to manage and sustain an organisation capable of meeting its challenges and delivering its strategic ambition. This option is not recommended.
There are no alternative options to the change to shareholder voting rights.
The Cabinet could decide not to further develop the strategic relationship with SLH. This would forego benefits to the Council achieving its priorities as set out in the Council Plan. This option is not recommended.