Present and former Housing Ombudsmen in the news

Boris Johnson’s former deputy mayor for housing in London, Richard Blakeway, has started work as the new Housing Ombudsman taking over from Andrea Keenoy, who had been in the role on a temporary basis.

Mr Blakeway joins the ombudsman at the start of its new three-year strategy, which aims to make “a difference on individual complaints and across the sector”. He said: “This is an exciting time to be joining the ombudsman service. I am keen to build on our work to strengthen our service and create a positive culture around redress.”

The Housing Ombudsman Service looks at complaints about housing organisations, addressing disputes involving the tenants and leaseholders of social landlords and any private landlords who are signed up to the service.

Last year’s Social Housing Green Paper suggested the Government was looking at ways of making it easier for residents to access the ombudsman. However, expectations have fallen since Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister.

Former ombudsman appointed

HA’s new chair South-west based Aster housing group has appointed a former housing ombudsman Dr Mike Biles as its new chair. He took over as head of the board on 1 October, replacing Andrew Jackson.

Dr Biles was ombudsman for 13 years until 2014. He has been a board member at Aster for four years and acted as senior independent director since last year, having previously chaired the group’s audit committee. Aster will appoint a new senior independent director later this month.

Aster operates across the south of England where it owns and manages 30,000 properties. It had a turnover of £212m for 2018/19 according to its recently published financial results.

Shortly before assuming the chair’s role Dr Biles said: “Aster has a clear vision of everyone having a home and a well-understood strategy that aims to increase the volume of high-quality, affordable houses across a range of tenures.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor