Outside body

Plymouth Community Homes - Board of Directors


Plymouth Community Homes is registered as a social landlord with the Tenant Services Authority and is the largest locally based social housing provider in Plymouth. In 2009 council tenants in Plymouth voted in favour of transferring the ownership and management of their homes to Plymouth Community Homes.







1          Introduction

1.1         This information note is intended to provide some background, and identify   the expectations placed on Board members of Plymouth Community Homes.

1.2         The Board of Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) is composed of 12 people, including up to two PCH tenants who are elected by the wider tenant body and two nominees from Plymouth City Council.

1.3         City Council nominees do not need to be a current elected member, but can be ex councillors, members of staff, or indeed ex members of staff. They cannot be existing tenants, leaseholders or staff members of PCH.

2          Board members

2.1       We aim to ensure that the Board membership comprises a mixture of the right skills and expertise to manage a multi-million pound organisation that manages approximately15 000 properties and includes a complex regeneration project.

2.2       We have a code of conduct which we require board members to sign and abide by.  This is based on our adopted Code of Governance, as required by our regulator. Each Board member has a duty to act in the best interests of PCH. Board members are not delegates or representatives of outside bodies, and cannot act in the primary interest of any outside body. Neither can they act on their own personal interests and must declare any actual or potential conflicts of interest.

2.3       Board members are expected to engage and play an active role in governing the Association. The role is strategic, and members must avoid getting involved in operational issues.

3          Payment of Board members

3.1       In September 2013 the Board of Plymouth Community Homes considered a business case for the payment of individual board members. This was agreed, and fee payments commenced on the 1st April 2014.

3.2       Payments apply to all Board members, and are made monthly in arrears. Alongside the payments are a set of performance expectations, generally around attendance and contribution at meetings. Further information is available on request.

4          Time commitments

4.1       Board meetings are held on Tuesday evenings and generally last around 2 hours (starting at 5pm). Meetings are scheduled in advance, and there are generally between 6 and 8 meetings a year.

4.2       We have three committees, which each meet between 4 and 6 times a year. We also have three subsidiary companies, PCH Manufacturing Services (external trading arm for our manufacturing services), PCH Regeneration and PCH Energy (to deal with our photo –voltaic cells project).

4.3       Board members are expected to also sit on at least one (but generally two) committees or subsidiary Boards.

4.4       In addition, we hold two Board away days a year, and it is the expectation that all Board members attend these.

4.5       All board members are encouraged undertake training and other learning opportunities in order to expand their skills, knowledge and experience and to develop their competencies in order that they may fulfil their role and responsibilities as effectively as possible. All Board            members are required to undertake an annual individual appraisal, which generally takes place in the summer, to assist with identifying learning and development objectives.

4.6       We run briefing sessions (generally once a quarter) on topics of particular Interest, and also organise various training sessions and tours.

5          Induction

5.1       We continue to develop our approach to induction, which typically involves meetings with our Executive, the Chair and background reading. We also arrange tours, and are happy to tailor induction programmes to suit the needs of the individual. We are developing our approach to ‘buddying’ experienced and new Board members, and provide ongoing support as required.



                BOARD MEMBER



Approved PCH Board


  25 March 2014


1             Introduction


1.1          This person specification is in three parts:


·         A set of core qualities expected of all Board members.


·         A set of skills, knowledge, and experience that the Board need to have amongst its membership.


·         A set of core competencies against which the performance of Board members will be reviewed at least once a year.


1.2       All Board members are encouraged undertake training and other learning opportunities in order to expand their skills, knowledge and experience and to develop their competencies in order that they may fulfil their role and responsibilities as effectively as possible. 


2                    Core Qualities Expected of all Board Members


2.1          To have and be able to demonstrate a commitment to:


·         The success of the organisation as a social enterprise.


·         Social housing and the development of sustainable communities.


·         Meeting the needs of vulnerable people.


·         Working effectively with other Board members and with staff.


·         The vision, strategic goals and objectives of the organisation.


·         The values of the organisation.


·         The involvement of residents at all levels of the business.


·         Promoting equality and diversity.


2.2          To have and demonstrate a sufficient standard of education to enable the proper assimilation of information presented to the board and committees; to be able to raise relevant questions about them; and to reach informed decisions.


2.3          To have personal circumstances that enable: 


·         1 day induction in the first month.


·         1-2 days familiarisation with the business over the first 2-3 months.


·         Attendance at an average of 10-15 meetings a year, whether Board, Committee or working group.


·         Ad hoc discussions to be held between Board meetings with other Board members and staff to help inform and develop the work of the organisation.


·         Attendance at a minimum of four days (made up either in whole or part days) a year Board training, away day, conference or similar activity.


·         At least a day for appraisal. Board members should be prepared to commit more time if it becomes apparent (with reasonable notice) that this is necessary.


2.4          To have an ability to:


·         Understand their legal duties as a Board member.


·         Work effectively in groups.


·         Understand the concepts of budgeting and monitoring financial performance.


·         Understand the core elements of letting, managing and maintaining property and monitoring performance.


·         Take rational decisions on the basis of the information available.


·         Use information technology in conducting their business as a Board member.


3          Special Skills, Knowledge and Experience amongst the Board Members


3.1       Each Board member is expected to contribute to at least one of these areas of skills, knowledge and experience. The Board as a whole will endeavour to have at all times at least one Board member who can demonstrate a strength in one or more of each area as follows:


·         Skills at evaluating detailed financial information and making major decisions on priorities and resources.


·         Skills in providing or managing large scale housing repairs, maintenance or construction related services.

·         Skills in identifying and managing risk, developing and monitoring internal controls.


·         Knowledge of the external framework, eg financial markets, political imperatives and the operating environment of a registered provider.Skills in developing solutions to complex problems.


·         Knowledge and experience of housing development.


·         Direct knowledge of how residents (i.e. tenant and leaseholders) and other customers experience the services provided by the organisation.


·         Direct knowledge of local communities and their needs and priorities.


·         Knowledge of how other key stakeholders (such as the Council, lenders or other charities with whom PCH may work from time to time) experience the services provided by the organisation or how it conducts its business.


·         Experience of participating in community led groups, developing solutions and securing resources to tackle neighbourhood issues.


·         Experience of the housing sector at a senior level in a similar organisation.


·         Experience of managing the activities of others within a business environment.


·         Other relevant or specialist skills, such as commercial, financial, HR, investment, legal, social services, property management or environmental issues.


3.2       Any gaps in the skills, knowledge and experience on the Board will be a consideration when recruiting board members and succession planning.



4          Core Competencies of all Board Members


4.1       The performance of all Board members will be assessed through an annual individual appraisal process. The scheme uses core competencies expected of Board members as a tool to guide the appraisal process which will involve self-assessment prior to a meeting with the appraiser – usually the Chair.


4.2       Core competencies for Board members are:


§  giving purpose and direction

§  getting the best from people

§  thinking strategically

§  focusing on outcomes

§  leading by example

§  Effective team working

§  learning and improving


4.3       Core competencies are used to measure personal effectiveness in the ability to lead, inspire and add value to the governance of the organisation. The following table gives some examples of what each of these competencies means in practice by illustrating the sorts of things that might typify effective or ineffective behaviour.


                Giving purpose and direction

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üIs clear what needs to be achieved.

üCommunicates a compelling view of the future.

üEstablishes standards of behaviour which promote diversity.

üAgrees clear responsibilities in conjunction with the rest of the Board, and objectives to deliver results.

üDemonstrates commitment to the values and policies of the organisation.

üCommunicates clearly and persuasively.

üAct as a role model for fellow board members and directors.

üInspire colleagues to achieve more.

üInfluences the direction of the organisation and adds value to the decision-making process.



X        Looks to others to provide direction.

X        Takes an overly cautious approach.

X        Loses sight of the big picture.

X        Is pessimistic what the strategy will deliver.

X        Allows a culture of which is intolerant of diversity.

X        Unable to articulate a clear point of view.

                Thinking strategically

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üSensitive to wider political and organisational priorities.

üAssimilates and makes sense of complex or conflicting data and different perspectives.

üFinds new ways of looking at issues.

üHomes in on key issues.

üIdentifies opportunities to improve delivery through partnership.

üRecommends business directions for the organisation.

üAnticipate risks and consequences.

üMakes objective decisions based on sound evidence and analysis.

üActs in the best interests of the organisation.

X    Works only from own perspective or assumptions about the world.

X    Fails to make connections between ideas or people.

X    Focuses solely on the detail.

X    Focuses on intellectual debate at the expense of action.

X    Fails to consider the needs of a diverse community.

X    Allow self to be mandated or influenced by individuals or other bodies.

                Leading by Example

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üVisible and approachable to all.

üActs with honesty and integrity.

üDeclares any relevant interests.

üPrepares thoroughly for meetings.

üRegularly attends meetings, is reliable and punctual.

üContributes to discussion and decision-making at the appropriate time.

üChallenges and is prepared to be challenged.

üSays what people may not want to hear.

üRespects confidences and confidentiality of information.

üTakes difficult decisions and measured risks.

üAccepts responsibility for own decisions.

üDoes not let personal relationships interfere with Board responsibilities.

üTakes personal responsibility for making progress in diversity issues.

X    Says one thing and does another.

X    Takes contrary views as a personal criticism.

X    Argues for own interests to the detriment of wider interests.

X    Accepts the status quo.

X    Aloof and arrogant.

X    Aggressive, not assertive.

X    Unwilling to compromise when compromise is appropriate.

                Getting the best from people

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üGets to know individuals and their aspirations.

üBuilds productive relationships with people across and outside the organisation.

üAdapts working style to different people, cultures and situations.

üKnows when to step in and when not.

üListens and takes account of diverse views.

üGives and expects constructive feedback.

üRespects the role of others inside and outside the Board.

üPraises achievements and celebrates success.

üEncourage colleagues to challenge conservative thinking.

X       Works only with the most competent people.

X       Writes rather than speaks.

X       Has a fixed working style.

X       Is uncomfortable working with people from diverse backgrounds.

X       Blames others.

X       Wields the red pen.

X       Avoids giving constructive criticism or voicing unpopular views when he or she feels is necessary.

X       Does not respect the feelings of others.

                Focusing on outcomes

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üPuts customers first.

üRigorous in monitoring and reviewing progress and performance.

üIs not deflected by obstacles or problems.

üSeeks continuously to improve performance and service delivery.

üSupports decisions once agreed.


X       Focuses on the process rather than getting results.

X       Avoids dealing with difficult problems.

X       Makes hasty decisions under pressure.

X       Takes sole credit for achieving results.

X       Talks against collective decisions made by the Board outside the meeting.

                Learning and improving

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üAware of own strengths, weaknesses and motivations.

üApplies learning from own and others' experience.

üKeeps knowledge up to date and is in touch with relevant issues.

üUnderstands, values and incorporate different perspectives.

üSeeks new or different idea and opportunities to learn.

üReadily shares ideas and information with others.

üEncourages experimentation and tries innovative ways of working.

üWorks with partners to achieve the best practice outcomes.

üAdapts quickly and flexibly to change.

X       Can't see things from other people's perspective.

X       Assumes at the outset different perspectives need not be taken on Board.

X       Does not listen.

X       Sticks to outdated methods.

X       Unwilling to be exposed to risk or uncertainty.

X       Fails to prepare adequately for meetings, training or other commitments.



                Team working

                Effective behaviour

                Ineffective behaviour

üDemonstrates reliability.

üCommunicates constructively.

üListens actively.

üFunctions as an active participant.

üShares openly and willingly.

üCooperates and pitches in to help.

üExhibits flexibility.

üShows commitment to the team.

üWorks as a problem-solver.

üTreats others in a respectful and supportive manner.


X       Unreliable, poor attendance record.

X       Unwilling to Share information.

X       Does not participate in discussion at meetings.

X       Pursues Personal Goals Unduly.

X       Pessimistic & Negative.

X       Lack of Sensitivity.





Contact information

Belinda Pascoe/Leanne Eastwood

Our representatives