Each year 24 Housing invites more than 400 leading figures in the housing world to nominate five people who they think have had the biggest impact on housing during the last year. This year’s ‘Power Player‘ survey is published today.
The Power Player list has a selective constituency and isn’t scientific but it is a bit of fun, gets tongues wagging, and most people seem quite pleased to be on it rather than off it.
The SHOUT out headline from this year’s poll is the remarkable impact that the ‘Social Housing Under Threat’ campaign has had in less than a year of making a fuss about the importance of social rented housing. Eight members of the SHOUT steering group make it into the top 50 – although they all have other strings to their bow, like Tom Murtha who also chairs HACT and is 16th.
It almost seems unnecessary to mention that David Orr of the National Housing Federation has achieved a hat trick of top places. The successful ‘Homes for Britain’ campaign and rally and the general high profile of NHF mean it has been a good year for him, despite an undercurrent of criticism from SHOUT and elsewhere that NHF has stopped talking about the sector’s core product, social rented housing, and is seguing into the role of representing large non-profit housebuilders.
As the Election campaign is just underway, it is intriguing to see how the politicians have done. Labour’s Emma Reynolds leaps up from 15th to become the top politician, stealing ahead of George Osborne into 5th place, a good result given how hard it is to have an impact from opposition. Osborne slips 4 places to 6th, but he is clearly the person who decides housing policy in the Government, having just committed more than twice the annual affordable housing budget in one go on his new Help to Buy ISA. There is some money left, just not for affordable housing.
You would expect the current Housing Minister to make the list, and he does. Anybody remember his name? Yes it’s Brandon Lewis and he comes in at an insulting 49th. Not very good given that Grant Shapps was once top of the pile (or was it Michael Green?), and even the already-forgotten Kris Hopkins (13th last year) and Mark Prisk (5th in 2013) did rather better than that. Let’s hope Emma Reynolds and Brandon Lewis have the same relative power after May 7th.
Amongst the politicians, housing’s pantomime villain Iain Duncan Smith is in at 15th, recognition of the impact that the welfare reforms are having, and it is interesting to note that Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Minister for communities and tackling poverty makes it in at 23rd and a former Housing Minister, John Healey, who has written a lot about housing recently and help instigate SHOUT, is in at 26th. Labour’s housing commission chair Sir Michael Lyons is 27th.
One slight improvement is that more women are recognised this year, up from 12 to 15. But intriguingly, women take half the places in the top dozen, with ex-DCLG and new CIH chief executive Terrie Alafat coming 4th followed by Emma Reynolds, Carol Matthews of Riverside, outgoing CIH chief Grainia Long, Alison Inman who is involved with CIH, TPAS and SHOUT, and Geeta Nanda, CEO of Thames Valley HA.
A rather large number of housing association chief executives feature, but there seems an underlying swing from the very large associations (who are still well represented, for example by David Montague of L&Q and Brendan Sarsfield of Family Mosaic) to the medium-sized associations who have been making more noise about the future direction of the sector. Tony Stacey of South Yorkshire HA, who leads the Placeshapers group of associations, is 2nd and Nick Atkin of Halton is 3rd. But some big players who have previously featured, like David Cowans of Places for people and Kate Davies of Notting Hill, have slipped out. The regulators also appear: Julian Ashby and Matthew Bailes of the HCA at 13th and 20th respectively.
Only 20 years ago many of the most important figures in housing were council housing directors. As far as I can see, none make this year’s list although the council sector is represented by its ALMOs: NFA chair Sue Roberts of Wolverhampton Homes, Eamon McGoldrick of NFA and Helen McHale of Stockport Homes.