Moat’s chief executive outlines his vision for making the UK a better place to live.
‘Measuring success the right way’
First things first, I’d change the way we measure success. A performance indicator telling regulators that we met our arrears target, for instance, says little about how we achieve our social purpose as an organisation.
We should instead look at how many residents we support from subsidised into unsubsidised tenures; at the success of partnership initiatives to challenge worklessness in our communities; and at how we provide social value in our services.
‘Joined up welfare and tax systems’
Secondly, I’d improve communication and joint working between the welfare and tax systems. One gives money out, the other takes it, therefore it makes sense that they talk to one another! This would help housing providers with fairer allocation of financial resources to those who genuinely need them.
‘The right approach to recruitment’
And on that note let’s look at employment, or more specifically, at recruitment. It’s the age-old question – do you look for sector experience or the ‘right fit’. In my book, you can acquire skills, you can accumulate work experience but your values are part of who you are and that’s as true of organisations as it is of their employees. Prior to my role at City West, (and now Moat), I worked for Remploy and before that, Tate and Lyle. In fact, I originally trained as a chemical engineer and worked at ICI! I’m therefore fortunate that City West took a chance on a sector newbie. Some organisations are equally open-minded (like Midland Heart’s internal appointment of Ruth Cooke, one of the youngest chief executives in the sector) but others are less keen to consider new ways of working and thinking. As king, I’d make sure that recruitment in every industry was focused on an organisation’s values, culture and vision and not solely on quali cations, sector experience and niche skills.
For my fourth act of note, I’d improve resident independence – offering the tools and motivation for residents to take responsibility for their actions and environment. I believe that this would help to reduce inappropriate and ineffective interventions. At Moat, one of our biggest plans for the next year is to introduce tiered service levels. We’re working out the details with residents, but we want to differentiate between the service we provide to those who fulfil their responsibilities, and to those who do not. It fits within the wider Moat Promise which sets out resident and staff obligations to work together and accept joint responsibility for the improvement of communities.
‘Rebuilding community pride’
Which takes me nicely to my fifth and final act – rebuilding the somewhat fragile sense of local pride and community. The frequently quoted Nye Bevan, proudly stated that he aimed to replicate “the lovely feature of the English and Welsh village, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and farm labourer all lived on the same street – the living tapestry of a mixed community.” We should still be aiming for that. I live in a close-knit neighbourhood where we work together on projects varying from the upkeep of the local church to community celebrations
Everyone has a social investment in where we live – our homes are all part of a wider network and don’t just sit in individual family silos. If I was king for a day I’d make this the case across the UK. Even in bigger cities where it can be notoriously difficult to build community spirit, I’d provide incentives to make it happen. I’m not naïve, I know that this wouldn’t
automatically resolve society’s issues. I do, however, think that it would go some way towards improving the ‘them and us’ culture with younger generations, towards tackling ASB issues and towards improving employment and education levels.