Senior independent appointments as NHQB moves to operational stage
The New Homes Quality Board has appointed a new independent top team as it moves into its full operational stage, ahead of the New Homes Ombudsman Service launching to developers and consumers by the Summer.
The NHQB has a new CEO from April in Leon Livermore. Leon formerly led the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) as Chief Executive for eight years, and has an impressive career dominated by customer service and consumer matters.
Along with Leon as the new Chief Executive, a new Chair joins the organisation, following the announcement at the end of last year that founding Chair Natalie Elphicke OBE would be stepping back as the organisation moved from set up to full operational stages. Natalie Elphicke has been leading the work to introduce a new framework that will deliver improvements in the quality of build and customer service provided to new home buyers since 2019. Her work led to the creation and launch of the NHQB which has since made huge progress on its proposals to deliver a step change in how consumers are treated by the house building industry.
The incoming chair, Rob Brighouse, has considerable executive and non-executive experience in the rail sector. Rob will replace Natalie Elphicke as Chair at the NHQB’s April board meeting.
NHQB’s board has been further bolstered with the appointment of three more independent non-executive directors: Naomi Connell, an experienced audit committee Chair and Chief Finance Officer; Curtis Juman a Board-level executive with significant professional financial experience gained at Ofcom as well as the not-for-profit and ‘Big Four’ private sector; and Paul Price, who has an extensive housing and local government background and who oversaw the procurement of the NHQB’s preferred partner to develop the NHOS, working on that with NHQB as a consultant.
Leon, Rob, Naomi, Curtis and Paul join the existing board at a key stage in the NHQB’s development as it moves into full operations.
Last November saw the appointment of a preferred partner , The Dispute Service, with which the NHQB has been working to create an independent New Homes Ombudsman Service, that is on track to be launched by the Summer, whilst December saw the publication of the New Homes Quality Code, a new code of practice that will place significantly more requirements on builders in terms of the product and service they provide to their customers.
As the NHQB moves from development to activation and with developers now starting to sign up and register in advance of them ‘activating’ and working to the requirements of the new code and coming under the remit of the NHOS later this year, the NHQB felt it was the ideal time to make these senior appointments.
Speaking today, Natalie Elphicke, OBE, Chairman of the NHQB said: “I am incredibly proud of the huge progress we have made over recent years to establish a new framework to support and protect new home buyers. These are major reforms that will deliver a step change in industry behaviours, securing a better deal for consumers. These appointments will provide additional strength, independence and consumer insight to the Board.
I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me on this incredibly complex but rewarding journey. I am looking forward to homebuyers across the United Kingdom benefitting from quality new homes and better consumer outcomes.”
Leon Livermore said: “Having spent the vast majority of my career working in customer service, I am incredibly excited to be taking on the role at the NHQB and driving these vital proposals forward. Buying a new home is the biggest purchase most people will make in their life and so it is imperative that adequate protections are in place.”
Rob Brighouse said: “The NHQB is an organisation that is delivering an incredibly important new framework. It is wonderful to be joining at this key stage in its development and playing my part in delivering such important consumer reforms.”
Leon Livermore is an experienced and successful CEO and strategic leader. He was CEO at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) for eight years from February 2013. As CEO he was responsible for the direction and activities of the Institute. Prior to that he was Chair and Executive Board Member at the Consumer Codes Approval Board. Since leaving CTSI he has been consulting in the public policy and regulatory sectors. His entire working career has been focussed on regulation and standards and he has ‘a deep understanding of the value that they bring to a modern society and can bring that to this role’.
Rob Brighouse hasstrong track record in an ambassadorial role, with experience in engaging with commercial industry, coupled with credibility in operating at the most senior levels of government. With a technical background and an exceptionally strong track record, in an executive capacity, of engaging with industry to deliver high profile and high value infrastructure projects. He is the Senior Independent Director, Network Rail Board and founding Chair of the East West Railway Company.
Naomi Connell is an experienced Audit Committee Chair. A group CFO with a broad business leadership role, including governance, finance, people and technology, she is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and has extensive international, audit, risk management, M&A, financial and commercial business management experience with leading organisations in both private and public sectors. These include engineering and construction, transport, energy, infrastructure, trading, technology, manufacturing, big four accountancy and services. In 2019, she was named by the Financial Times and Inclusive Boards as one of the top 100 women in engineering.
Curtis Juman is a Board-level executive, with non-executive experience gained in the central government, social housing, and higher education sectors. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy and has been at CFO-level for the last 12 years. He has worked in the private sector in the UK as well as internationally with the Foreign Office and regularly works with Non-Executives Boards, Government Ministers, Senior Civil Servants, Trustees, and financial advisors. He is currently the Finance & Facilities Director at Ofcom.”
Paul Price was the Deputy Chief Executive at a District Council, having previously been at the City of London Corporation as Head of Residential and Technical and has significant experience across the housing sector. He has been a Director for the Association of Retained Council Housing and has provided a practical sounding board for government housing and construction policy over a number of years. Until recently he led the complex renewal process for the most deprived community in England.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
- The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) is a not-for-profit independent body with responsibility for developing a new framework to oversee the build quality and the customer service provided by developers of new build homes. Its objectives are to deliver a consistently high standard of new home quality and service, and to strengthen complaints handling and redress for purchasers of new-build homes where these high standards are not achieved. Under the leadership of the independent chair Natalie Elphicke OBE an interim board was established in May 2020 and the not-for-profit organisation and board was formally constituted as a legal entity in February 2021. (Registered company 131160638).
- Following a rigorous procurement process, in December of 202 the preferred partner for the NHOS was confirmed as The Dispute Service. The NHQB is now engaged with The Dispute Service to support them to develop and operationalise an ombudsman service. The NHQB and The Dispute Service is working with the Ombudsman Association to ensure its developing proposals are in accordance with their requirements and processes.
- The New Homes Quality Code was published to industry at the end of 2021 following a consultation in the summer to which over 250 responses were received, and more than 400 changes have been made following that consultation. The new Code introduces a broad range of additional requirements for developers which fill the gaps in current protections and ensure that every aspect of a new home purchase is covered. It;
- protects vulnerable customers, prohibits high pressure selling; requires any deposits to be protected. Requires the developer to provide all relevant information about the home earlier in the sales process – including its tenure and any future management or service charges – to allow them to make an informed decision about the purchase.
- Sets out requirements for a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off’ period; and sales contract requirements.
- Allows customers to have a professional carry out a pre-completion inspection on their behalf.
- Specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing developers paying customers to move into an incomplete new home early.
- Crucially, and to address the biggest gap in the existing arrangements, the Code requires developers to have an effective after care service in place to deal with any issues customers have with their new home; together with a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner, keeping them informed throughout. If a customer is not satisfied with how any complaint they have made has been dealt with, they can refer their complaint to the independent New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS).
- Developers are now being asked to register with the NHQB. Once they do so they are provided with training and support materials to be able them to prepare to adhere to the new requirements. Once both parties are agreed they are ready they will ‘activate’. From that point any customer reserving a new home are covered by the requirements of the New Homes Quality Code and have recourse to the NHOS. The NHOS will have the powers to require developers to undertake work or rectification measures and to award compensation. Ultimately, the NHQB will, including based on decisions issued by the Ombudsman, have the powers to de-register developers.
- The intention is to introduce the new arrangements ultimately on a UK wide basis and all developers in Great Britain will be expected to register with the NHQB in 2022. The NHQB has been engaging with the UK Government and officials in the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland as it has developed its proposals.
- The Building Safety Bill that is currently progressing through parliament will provide Government with the tools to put in place a statutory New Homes Ombudsman The decision on how those powers will be used will be a decision for the Secretary of State at the time.