Strengthening Customer Voice – SLH Rules Consultation on Proposed Changes Summer 2024

South Lakes Housing (SLH) continues to look at ways to strengthen the customer voice in decision making as part of the commitments to transform services and improve customer experience. Earlier this year SLH established a new and fresh voice for tenants via a new Residents Forum, with a clear terms of reference, a more diverse make-up and geographical coverage across our neighbourhoods, and a direct reporting line to the Board.

SLH has also invested significant resources in people, process and systems resulting in better handling of and learning from complaints, extensive customer satisfaction testing (including via two surveys undertaken by external market research company). We have expanded the ways in which customers can engage, get involved and influence service delivery and policy.

It is within this context that the Board have been reviewing all areas where traditional forms of customer engagement have not been adding value, or where we believe that there are better insightful and now more meaningful methods of engagement. We are therefore consulting on plans to end the holding of annual general meetings, closing the shareholder membership scheme and removing the places ‘reserved’ for residents on the SLH Board.

Proposed changed to the SLH Rules

The Rules govern the operation of SLH as a Community Benefit Society, which are based on the National Housing Federation Rules 2015 Model Rules, as amended. The changes proposed by SLH have been drafted following consultation with legal advisors.

The 19th September 2024 Annual General Meeting of shareholders will be asked to approve proposed changes to the SLH Rules as set out below.

What are the main changes being proposed?

The amendments for consideration are designed to enhance the governance of the organisation, increase resilience and skills on the board, in recognition that there are now more effective resident engagement initiatives in place. The SLH Board has approved consultation with stakeholders to amend the SLH Rules in respect to;

1. Holding annual general meetings – at the moment shareholders are invited to an Annual General Meeting where they receive a copy of the annual report and financial statements, together with the audited accounts. In reality the meeting is attended by just a small handful of regular shareholders. Instead, the Board would prefer to meet with customers annually, if there is demand, and to have a broader conversation about the things that matter to customers. These meetings would be open to all customers and not restricted as the AGM currently is. Shareholders can only vote on a small matters of issues, and any future proposals if any, on these matters would always be subject to tenant consultation prior to the Board consideration. Copies of the SLH annual reports and financial statements are already made publicly available via the website.

2. Closing of the shareholder membership scheme – there are currently ten resident shareholders, and the scheme has been closed for a number of years, with admission restricted to board members. There is no shareholder dividend in place with SLH being a non-profit organisation. The matters reserved for shareholders within the Rules are limited and removing this requirement would reduce an unnecessary level of bureaucracy. Board Members would continue to be Shareholders for as long as they served on the Board.

3. Removing ‘reserved’ Board places for residents – this is being proposed to remove the ‘reserved’ requirement however the Board will always encourage ‘lived experience’ and put in place support for any customers who wish to serve as board members. There are currently no customers on the SLH Board. Removing the two places ‘reserved’ for customers will provide greater flexibility to appoint to the maximum Board of twelve based on skills and experience. The Board have also recognised the complex economic, political, regulatory operating environment and recognise the need to ensure that people with the appropriate skills are appointed to the Board. Making this change will not prevent customers with suitable skills from applying to the Board and the desire is that the Residents Forum will provide a sound training ground for customers to consider applying for Board vacancies in the future.

We believe these changes support the new enhanced resident engagement structure in place and will help the Association be more accountable and in tune with residents’ views.

How can you submit any comments / views?

SLH is seeking views now on the proposed changes ahead of preparing the AGM Notice for the general meeting on the 19th September 2024. If you would like to discuss any of the matters included above then please speak to the SLH Company Secretary.

Please send the SLH Company Secretary, John Mansergh (email:, your views by 7th August.

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