Code of Governance: final consultation

05 August 2020

The National Housing Federation (NHF) Code of Governance has been in place for over 25 years, and has evolved significantly over that period. This new 2020 version has been completely rewritten, building upon the strength of previous codes and reflecting the latest developments in best practice and the changing needs of a maturing social housing sector. We believe this new code sets out ambitious standards for housing association governance. 

We have developed this new code through a collaborative drafting process in partnership with the sector and wider stakeholders. We have consulted widely, and many of you will already have contributed to the development of the code via our formal consultation process. As a result, we are confident that the draft we are sharing covers the key issues in the right amount of detail.

We are now seeking final comments from our members and from stakeholders to ensure that the proposed new code is clear, easy to understand, and would not cause any adverse or unintended consequences that would prevent its adoption by housing associations. We also want to ensure that the code meets the needs of wider sector stakeholders.

Questions

We are now publishing the final draft code for comment. In particular, we are seeking responses to the following questions:

  1. Are there any areas of the code you think are unclear?
  2. Is there anything significant missing from the code that we should consider adding?
  3. Is there any reason why your organisation would not be able to adopt the code?
  4. Are there any areas of the code where you believe further guidance or supporting documentation would be useful to support implementation?
  5. Are there any other observations you wish to make?

Please be as explicit as possible in your responses, so that if you have any concerns we can understand why this is.

How to respond

  • Download the draft Code of Governance at the link below. 
  • Submit your responses using our online form.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at codeofgovernance@housing.org.uk.

The consultation closes at midnight on Sunday 6 September.

download Download the draft code

Next steps

The final stage consultation is open until 6 September 2020.

Once the consultation closes, we will analyse all of the response and make any final revisions to the code. We will also begin work on any necessary supporting guidance.

We intend to publish the new code in November 2020.  

Developing the new code

In response to the 2018 social housing green paper, we committed to reviewing our 2015 Code of Governance, paying particular attention to how housing associations are accountable to residents.

Other important changes in the world of corporate governance, such as the publication of a new UK Corporate Code of Governance in 2018 – as well as significant events in the social housing sector and the wider political landscape – prompted us to carry out a full review of the 2015 code.

The 2015 code remains highly regarded and widely adopted in the sector, but we wanted to work with our members and stakeholders to reflect some of these recent changes as well as some of the developments likely to face our sector in the coming years.

The consultation process

It was important to us that the new code should thoroughly reflect the reviews of our members and stakeholders. To ensure this, we developed a three-stage review process:

  1. An open consultation on the key principles and content of the new code.
  2. A collaborative drafting process.
  3. A final consultation on the draft code.

We are now at the final consultation stage of the process. Below we provide a summary of the previous two stages. 

Stage one: An open consultation on the key principles and content

The first stage consultation asked broad questions about the principles that should underpin the code, detail about governance, and what respondents need from the code. We received an excellent response rate, with over 150 detailed contributions from members and sector stakeholders.

Our analysis of the responses made it clear that the new code needed to remain principles-based, and be accessible, not overly prescriptive and as succinct as possible.

The feedback from the consultation also highlighted some key areas the new code would need to address explicitly, including:

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Accountability to residents.
  • Changes in the sector risk landscape.

Stage two: the collaborative drafting process

We appointed Campbell Tickell to draft the code, following an open invitation to tender. The drafting process was a collaboration between Campbell Tickell, the NHF and our advisory group, which is made up of a diverse range of individuals with wide-ranging knowledge, experience and perspectives on governance in the housing sector.

In drafting the code, we used the feedback from the first stage consultation and reviewed other codes of governance and publications to inform our thinking.  

Who to speak to

Paul Bayly, Head of Governance and Compliance