CRESR Seminar - Who owns housing associations? Exploring a contested space

Start date: 
Wed, 13/02/2019
Closing date: 
Wed, 13/02/2019
Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Stoddart Building, Room 7139
Event contact: 
Ian Wilson & Ben Pattison (Tel: 0114 225 3073)

4.00-5.00 pm


James Tickell
Campbell Tickell


Housing associations have become a major UK corporate sector, technically private enterprises, but non-profit distributing and operating along mutual lines. They have preferential access to public funding and also to the capital markets. They claim accountability to their tenants and social purpose, but have proved adept at delivering pretty much whatever housing programme the government of the day so wished. They have charitable status, but their board members are paid, and they appear to act, in some cases at least, like large scale private developers; some may have a dozen or more commercial trading subsidiaries and joint ventures. In 2016, they were briefly reclassified as public sector by the Office for National Statistic, which has now reversed that decision. This sector has grown rapidly in recent years, including by the acquisition of former council housing, sold to them at a discount in a form of social privatisation. So who really owns these organisations, who can hold them accountable and what makes them tick? James Tickell explores the history, the unintended consequences that drove their growth and the complex contested space within which they must operate.


James Tickell, Partner

James is a Partner at Campbell Tickell and has been with the company since 2004. During this period, he has carried out a wide range of assignments in all five countries of the British Isles. These have focused on governance, mergers and groups, regulatory issues, executive and non-executive recruitment, performance improvement, communications and strategy. Among the assignments James has undertaken are:

  • Working as Interim CEO of Shaftesbury Housing Group for some 14 months while the organisation was in supervision.
  • Numerous governance reviews, board appraisal exercises, awaydays, strategic planning exercises and scenario planning.
  • Working with various Scottish Housing Associations including various assignments at Wheatley HA for a number of years.
  • Talking at SFHA and CiH events in Scotland.
  • Working for the Scottish Housing Regulator on design of policies.
  • Working with housing associations experiencing regulatory problems to move beyond any difficulties and improve their performance.
  • Writing two editions of ‘Learning from Problem Cases’ for the Housing Corporation and then the Homes and Communities Agency.
  • Leading on brokering and negotiating a number of high profile mergers.
  • Writing the Charity Commission’s flagship guidance for Trustees and other key guidance booklets for charities.
  • Writing the 2015 revision of the NHF Governance code, and also the NCVO Code of Governance for the voluntary sector.
  • Conducting confidential inquiries into a range of problems and incidents on behalf of various clients, including a statutory inquiry on behalf of the housing regulator into the affairs of a troubled housing association.
  • Assisting and advising on issues connected with the formation of group structures, mergers and partnerships.
  • Recruitment/executive search for Chairs, Chief Executives and other senior positions.

Previously, James was the Deputy Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, a position he held for 10 years. Before joining the Federation, he was the Registrar of the Housing Corporation, a senior post in the department responsible for the regulation and supervision of associations.

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