Community controlled housing associations are working hard to ensure that their boards are strong and fit for the future in the light of demographic and other challenges, according to a new report from Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations. 

The report says that recent approaches to attracting new board members have included targeting younger people, including students, even if it is unlikely that they will be able to serve for a long time. 

And a number of associations have widened their search for new board members by seeking interest from people who live outside the association’s area of operation. Associations which have done this normally maintain the position of having a majority of board members living in the local community.   

The report also looks at the efforts associations are making to plan for the retirement of senior staff as the sector enters a period in which a significant proportion of chief officers and other senior staff will be moving on. Whilst the sector sees this issue as very important, says the report, there’s confidence about dealing with it, and attracting new board members remains the greater long-term challenge. 

GWSF Chair Peter Howden said: 

“It isn’t just the fact that board/committee members are getting older. We’re also facing the reality that whilst there are still plenty of challenges in our communities, we thankfully no longer have the very poor conditions and bad estate management which people were so keen to put right in the past. But that can make it harder for people to be motivated to put themselves forward for what is a demanding role. 

“Our report also highlights the efforts associations are making to ensuring that new board members feel welcome and fully integrated. The group dynamics for new board members have to be right: they need the right support or there’s a risk they won’t stick around. 

“It’s encouraging that members are planning for the future, but there’s always more that can be done. We’ll be working with members and with partner organisations to look at what further actions associations can consider to attract new board members and help prepare staff for more senior roles within the sector.” 

See GWSF’s report here.