Inside Housing Magazine has reported on the rises in housing association chief executive (CEO) pay, noting that on average, basic pay rose by 2.32.
There is no figure given to the average pay rises for the non-executive staff in the same organisations.
Housing associations have also made substantial contributions to CEO pensions of 8.9%, although large fluctuations were noted. Some association heads were receiving pension contributions of up to 33% – far higher than anything recorded for non-executive staff.
The list of top ten most highly paid CEOs, include many from organisations regularly reported to SHAC for their inferior housing and services, and often high service charges.
Clarion Housing Group came in third, with chief executive Clare Miller on a salary of £411,749. Clarion is one of the hardest organisations to engage with. SHAC receives regular complaints from tenants, residents, MPs, and councillors.
Clarion no longer has neighbourhood managers. Tenant and resident issues must be raised through a website form or call centre.
No matter whether the issue is a complaint or a query, callers find themselves stuck on a ‘hamster’ wheel. Promised return calls are never made, and formal complaints are closed down after a set period even if they are not resolved, leaving the tenant with no option than to begin the process from scratch.
Following closely behind is Fiona Fletcher-Smith of L&Q who takes home £328,500. This despite substantial bad press after L&Q and Clarion were both exposed by ITV for appalling disrepairs.
L&Q has also developed a shameful reputation for discrimination against those with disabilities, as highlighted frequently by SHAC and others.
NHF Code of Governance
Most housing associations operate to the National Housing Federation’s Code of Governance 2020, pointing to their compliance as if it provides evidence that the CEO’s inflated salary level is reasonable. The Code however is woefully non-prescriptive:
“The chief executive’s remuneration package is set at a level which is proportionate to the organisation’s size, complexity, level of risk, and resources; it is also aligned with the organisation’s social purpose and wider reputation.”National Housing Federation Code of Governance 2020 (Item 3)
This criterion provides boards with very wide discretion to set the level wherever they please, and it does not align executive salaries with average pay rises across the rest of the organisation.
It is clear from Inside Housing’s latest survey that housing associations continue to reward executives for failing tenants and residents. The full survey can be found here.
The Unite Housing Workers Branch represents staff across the sector and regularly regularly reports on pay disputes. Many frontline staff are on the mininum wage, and often receive little or no pay increase from one year to the next.
To address the imbalance, salaries at the top should be restricted to prevent large gaps between the top and bottom of the organisation. Tenants, residents and workers in the organisation should also be given a much stronger influence over the levels of pay awarded to their executives and board members.
22 November 2021
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Social Housing Action Campaign (SHAC).