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CIH: our moral compass is a relentless focus on professional standards

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CIH: our moral compass is a relentless focus on professional standards

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Paul Tennant elected Vice-President of the CIH Paul Tennant elected Vice-President of the CIH

Paul Tennant, President of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), last night spoke at the group's annual presidential dinner in London's Natural History Museum. Sharing a platform with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Mr Tennant said:

"Good evening – it’s fantastic to see so many of you here tonight, for what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the housing calendar.

I’m sure that like me you are looking forward in particular to hearing Boris speak in a few moments. I know he will get us off to a great start.

But before Boris speaks I’m going to say a few short words - no pressure there then!

The CIH is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards - founded on values of professionalism and ethics.

These principles are just as important today as they have ever been - and I intend to make leadership, ethics and professional standards key themes of my Presidency.

I am a member of a professional body that has real ambition – ambition for growth and ambition for all of its members.

So what does this look like in practice?

Well, last week we announced our growth strategy and that has a clear intent.

First, a relentless focus on professional standards -

• these will be our moral compass guiding the profession through difficult times.
• we won’t compromise on our ambitions to create world class places for people to live in

Second, ensuring we put our members at the heart of everything we do...

• achieving a step change in our offer to individuals and organisations in the housing profession;
• teaching for the housing system of the future,
• providing you with a ‘best in class’ member offer
• AND giving you the edge you need in a highly competitive jobs market.
• Third broadening our network and widening the horizon of the organisation...
• adding depth to the debate and ensuring a diversity in our membership from across the housing industry,
• AND being well on our way to double our membership by 2020.

So we are ambitious for CIH and ambitious for you, for the organisations you run and the communities you serve.

Our communities deserve nothing short of the best services and the best outcomes.

Professional standards require a constant determination to improve - in the homes we build, the places we develop, the spaces we design.

People respect and respond to these standards - they are the hallmark of our profession and we must not compromise on them - no matter how challenging the environment.

And in the housing industry, we want to grow the talent within our sector and beyond, to pass on that commitment to professional standards and ethics to future generations of housing professionals.

Last year we saw more professionals seeking education, guidance and support from the CIH; professionals demonstrating a thirst for knowledge, for self-improvement; making personal sacrifices and demonstrating commitment to improve their learning and the services they provide.

That is something I welcome and celebrate.

When I see the number of employers who continue to invest in education - to support their staff and encourage their learning - I know the future of the housing profession is bright.

It’s not just members and employers who understand the value of CIH.

Government relies on us to understand how its policies work - through our independence and our ability to analyse change.

We offer governments across the UK access to the collective knowledge and experience of more than 22,000 members - to influence the design and execution of policy across the whole housing industry.

There is much to welcome in the policy framework that the UK government has set out.

But I want to be clear about those areas where government can and should do more - and where we can help them.

Firstly it is beholden on all of us to speak honestly and directly about government’s response to the housing crisis.

As the independent professional institute, CIH will continue to meet this challenge head on!

We welcome government’s commitment to increasing housing supply, and its recognition of the major role housing can play in driving our economic recovery.

Every pound spent on housing generates nearly three pounds of economic activity.

Few industries can match that, and we have been relentless in making this case to government.

As a result I’m certain government now understands the major contribution housing can play in stimulating the economy.

And I know that the Mayor understands this too.

Like all of you I’m really looking forward to hearing Boris’s speech. I’m sure that it will be fascinating and entertaining and maybe contain a few surprises too!

He understands that London, and the UK’s, ability to respond to our housing crisis will be key to sustaining our economic growth and retaining our international competitiveness.

Boris’s office were kind enough to issue a press release in advance setting out some of the things he will say and I’d like to comment on a couple of those now:

On borrowing caps – CIH urged the Government to lift local authority borrowing caps ahead of last year’s autumn statement, so we are pleased to see the Mayor calling for the same measure.

Lifting the caps would have benefits beyond London. Our analysis shows that raising borrowing caps nationally by £7 billion could support the construction of 60,000 homes over the next five years, creating 23,500 jobs a year and adding £5.6 billion to the economy.

What is good for London is good for the rest of the country too.

On certainty – this is critical to helping organisations plan for future investment and I welcome Boris recognising this in his press release.

CIH believes that government could provide housing associations, and local authorities, with much needed certainty by moving quickly to address the uncertainty around social rents post April 2015, giving them the confidence to invest for the future.

We want government to redouble its efforts to ensure that beyond a suite of policies, we now begin to see real progress on the ground.

The tone and content of many government announcements about housing supply and economic growth have been very welcome.

But concrete progress on the ground has been disappointing. Literally.

Housing numbers are far too low and well short of the 250,000 homes a year we need to build, if we are to make a proper contribution to dealing with our housing crisis.

Too many policies have been too long in their gestation and have yet to have any real impact even months after being announced.

We welcomed the announcement of £10bn of government guarantees in September. We are now anxious to get to a position where guarantees can be agreed and the delivery of new homes set in motion.

And we need to encourage continued ambition in Government

In his speech Boris will powerfully make the case for government to take an even more active role in leading our economy to recovery. . . Housing is placed at the heart of his strategy.

Boris is right. And this asks challenging questions of government, and of the level of resource they are investing in housing.

The investment made to date is welcome, but it is not enough. . . Government can and should do more!

CIH will be set out our vision in our submission to the 2013 Comprehensive Spending Review.

But we also to provide a sense of the longer term.

Government needs to recognise the risks inherent in dealing with a crisis. That in dealing with the short term we overlook the longer term.

We need to address the immediate crisis, but there are serious long term challenges we face and they also require effort and energy.

One of these is the relationship between housing and the tax system

At the moment...

• the structure of the tax system does not help to deliver a functional housing system, it can distort prices in the market, create house price inflation, penalise brownfield development, and is not designed to encourage investment in bringing forward land or in environmental efficiency.

In short the system it is not fit for purpose - it needs proper analysis and serious reform. And CIH intends to demonstrate to government the need for reform and to recommend improvements.

This work is long term. It won’t have an impact next week, next month or even next year. But we are convinced that it needs proper attention and we intend to convince government that this is the case too.

We have a busy and demanding year ahead of us.

My focus in my Presidential year will be to ensure that as professionals, we do not compromise on standards, on ethics and on ambition. To deliver world class housing for everyone.

We know that we will be working in a tough environment but that is a challenge for us to rise to.

So I will challenge us as a profession:

- to maintain investment in our skills and abilities despite the tough environment we are in, AND
- to be a strong profession- to have confidence in our ability and our value, and importantly in our values!

And with that challenge comes a wonderful opportunity to shout about what we do, and demonstrate the impact we have - I don't want to waste that!

The leaders of our profession and of our industry are here tonight! You, we, set the standards - by what we say, what we do, how we act and how we lead.

Your leadership is critical to our future!

I wish you well in the year ahead."

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