Appointment of the Housing Ombudsman Contents

Annex B: Ministerial correspondence between the Department and the Chair

Letter dated 4 July 2018 from Rt Hon James Brokenshire, Secretary of State, to the Chair

Appointment of the new Housing Ombudsman

I am writing to notify you that I have not appointed a new permanent Housing Ombudsman following my Department’s recruitment campaign for this post.

The Housing Ombudsman is responsible for resolving complaints by tenants, leaseholders and other individuals against social landlords as well as supporting effective landlord and tenant dispute resolution. Given the increasing profile of social housing issues over the past year, this role has become even more important and we are considering measures to further strengthen the complaints process through the Social Housing Green Paper.

I considered the Assessment Panel’s recommendations carefully but, in the light of the increasing importance of the Housing Ombudsman, I did not consider that that any of the shortlisted candidates had sufficiently strong skills sets and experience to fulfil all the criteria for this role. Given the policy development that is being taken forward through the work on the Social Housing Green Paper, I would like to refresh the specification for this post to reflect my priorities for social housing, and to attract the best possible candidate.

With regard to the interim arrangements, Oliver Dowden has confirmed that he is content with my approach to appoint Andrea Keenoy, the current Director of Finance and Corporate Performance at the Housing Ombudsman Service, to this position on an interim basis once David Connolly steps down at the end of August. I consider that Andrea’s skills and experience will provide the necessary continuity until I appoint a permanent Housing Ombudsman.

My officials will be in touch with your offices regarding the new campaign in due course.

Letter dated 28 March 2019 from Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Housing, to the Chair

Public Appointments: Engagement with the Committee

I am writing to apologise that we did not consult you on the proposed selection processes for the Housing Ombudsman and the Chair of the Regulator of Social Housing before the recruitment campaigns began, and to assure you that measures have been taken to ensure this does not happen again. This letter provides updates on progress with both recruitment campaigns and sets out next steps, including the provisional timings for pre-appointment hearings with the Select Committee, as discussed with the Clerks to your Committee.

The Department has made a number of changes in personnel over the last year, both in the Public Appointments, ensuring that our processes and appointments are compliant with the Governance Code. The Department is also ensuring that our Public Appointments Team has the expertise and capacity to deliver the pipeline of appointments needed over the coming years.

As officials seek to progress these campaigns, I will also ensure that regular updates are provided to the Clerks of your committee. The latest position is summarised below, and fuller descriptions of progress and timetables are set out in the attached annexes:

The Housing Ombudsman

The Chair of the Regulator of Social Housing

Officials will keep the Clerks advised of progress towards these key milestones.

The updates above touched on the pre-appointment scrutiny hearings. The Applicant Packs for both campaigns advised candidates of the possibility of a pre-appointment hearing with the Committee. This was stated clearly in the Packs and officials have repeated the advice in the letters that have issued to the shortlisted candidates for the Housing Ombudsman role. Officials have also offered to brief and support the preferred candidate before they attend the hearing. Officials will also ensure that our communications to those shortlisted for the Chair of the Regulator of Social Hosing make clear that the preferred candidate will need to attend a pre-appointment hearing with the Committee, and officials will also offer the preferred candidate briefing and support.

I hope you find this letter useful. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any further questions.

Letter dated 26 June 2019 from Rt Hon James Brokenshire, Secretary of State, to the Chair

The Housing Ombudsman: Pre-Appointment Hearing

I am writing to inform you that my Department recently concluded a recruitment campaign for a permanent Housing Ombudsman. Upon the consideration of the Assessment Panel’s recommendations, I have selected Richard Blakeway as my preferred candidate for the role.

The Housing Ombudsman is responsible for resolving complaints by tenants, leaseholders and other individuals against social landlords, as well as supporting effective landlord and tenant dispute resolution. Richard’s policy knowledge and understanding of the context in which the Housing Ombudsman will operate within was the strongest of the appointable candidates. He demonstrates strong commitment to the importance as Housing Ombudsman, of improving redress in response to the issues raised by Grenfell, the Social Housing Green Paper and the Hackitt Review.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance to Departments, the Housing Ombudsman role is subject to a pre-appointment hearing. A hearing date has been scheduled by officials for 1 July 2018. As the necessary approvals have now been received I can confirm Richard’s attendance at the hearing.

As stipulated in the Cabinet Office guidance, information in relation to Richard and the wider campaign will be provided to the Clerk by my officials.

Published: 4 July 2019