Appointment of the Housing Ombudsman Contents

Annex C: Housing Ombudsman recruitment timeline

1.The last permanent Housing Ombudsman, Denise Fowler, resigned from the role in June 2017. The Department ran a campaign for a new Ombudsman in summer 2017 but it generated a limited field of applicants.

2.David Connolly, who was on secondment from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, was appointed as the interim Housing·Ombudsman on 5 June 2017, initially on a six-month contract which was subsequently extended to end August 2018.

3.A further campaign was launched in January 2018 with a revised job specification to take account of the increasing profile of social housing issues and work on the Green Paper. This campaign attracted a stronger calibre of applicant and the Assessment Panel recommended an appointable candidate to the then Secretary of State for his decision in April 2018 . However, in May 2018, following a Cabinet reshuffle the new Secretary of State, decided not to appoint the candidate. The Secretary of State wrote to you and the Commissioner for Public Appointments on 4 July 2018, to explain that he did not consider any of the shortlisted candidates would sufficiently fulfil the role and he wanted to refresh the specification to take account of his priorities for social housing. Given the significance of the role, the Secretary of State additionally requested an executive search agency be engaged during a re-run of a permanent Housing Ombudsman campaign.

4.With the approval of the Minister for Implementation at the Cabinet Office, Andrea Keeney, the then Director of Finnce and Corporate Performance at the Housing Ombudsman Service, was appointed to act as an interim Housing Ombudsman from 31 August 2018. Her term expires on 31 August 2019.

5.The latest campaign was launched on 4 January 2019 and a copy of the Candidate Information Pack which provides the background to this campaign and details of the role and recruitment process is enclosed with this letter.

6.The main difference between this and the previous pack sent to you in December 2017 is a greater emphasis on social housing. The selection criteria are the same, but the introductory section focusses on greater redress for social housing tenants and includes links to the published Dame Hackitt Review, the summary of the ‘Strengthening consumer redress in housing’ consultation and the Social Housing Green Paper ‘A New Deal for Social Housing’. The role also includes ‘ensuring effective relationships with Government Ministers and with Parliament in carrying out the independent role of the Housing Ombudsman’ and ‘ensuring overarching targets and milestones are progressed and achieved’.

7.Further, the format of the candidate pack has changed stylistically from a word document to a slide pack. The Nolan Principles are set out in the candidate pack, with annexes for completion (along with a new Privacy Notice as required by the Data Protection Act/GDPR) are separate documents . The new candidate pack also includes a section on the key responsibilities of public sector non-executives generally and incorporates more detailed information on conflicts of interest and due diligence following updated Cabinet Office guidance.

8.In light of the historical, unsuccessful Housing Ombudsman recruitment campaigns, and at my request, an executive search agency, Moloney Search was engaged to ensure a diverse and strong candidate field. Moloney Search generated candidates via active headhunting and word of mouth as the search progressed. They reached out to over 300 individuals.

9.In addition, the post was advertised on the Cabinet Office public appointments website, on Non-Executive Director recruitment websites (NED on Board and Women on Boards) and was circulated via stakeholder networks and social media. Officials also contacted various diversity networks to encourage a diverse applicant field, including Civil Service Race Forum and the Equality and Diversity Forum.

10.The key milestones for the remainder of the campaign are set out below:




11 April 2019

Panel reco’mmendations on appointable candidates considered and decision on preferred candidate

23 April 2019

CO complete consideration of preferred candidate

23 May 2019

Pre-appointment scrutiny hearinQ

24 June 2019

Published: 4 July 2019