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THE BIG INTERVIEW


‘My friends are surprised at the houses we’ve built’


It’s been a long time since the issue of housing was so prominent on the political agenda, but it is increasingly thrust under the microscope for its role in a low-carbon and post-Covid world. As chief executive of Chamber strategic partner Nottingham Community Housing Association, Paul Moat is charged with a wide-ranging responsibility, as he tells Dan Robinson. But first, he wants to make sure people know what a housing association even is.


while interest peaks in Jane’s job as a solicitor, Paul is greeted by puzzled looks when he tells people he runs a housing association. “It’s interesting to observe how people react because


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everyone understands a solicitor’s job and wants to find out more about their work, but it’s amazing how many get confused about what a housing association does. “But I’m proud of working for a housing association, so


I’m trying to do my small part in showing what we do because we’re great companies that carry out some really important work in our communities.” Paul, who took up the top job at Nottingham Community


Housing Association (NCHA) in September 2018, understands why people’s knowledge can be sketchy as he shared a misperception at the beginning of his career in the sector 21 years ago after joining from a brewery.


‘We feel proud whether we build 400 homes that are then run by NCHA or 100 homes that are handed to other associations’


Many outsiders believe they are the modern-day


organisation that manage council houses, but the near- 10,000 homes managed by NCHA across six counties have no direct link to local authority housing – Nottingham City Council employs the arms-length management organisation Nottingham City Homes to run its 27,000 homes, for example – and instead offers social and affordable housing for the city. While both affordable and social housing are rental


products aimed at giving people on low incomes a chance of secure, long-term tenancy, there is a subtle difference in each definition. Affordable housing rent is based on 80% of the local


market rent, whereas social housing rent is set according to a national formula, and both are provided by either a housing association or council. Alongside this, NCHA also provides shared ownership


housing stock and is a developer in its own right for a relatively small amount of private housing – building up to 400 homes a year – which is sold for a profit to be reinvested in its other activities. This last point perhaps takes some people by surprise but it is playing a key role in Nottingham’s Waterside


36 business networkOctober 2020


NCHA builds up to 400 homes a year for sale and shared ownership


henever Paul Moat and his wife Jane attend a dinner party and are introduced to guests, the conversation inevitably comes around to what they both do for a living. Almost every time without fail,


regeneration scheme by building 73 homes – consisting of 53 for sale and 20 for shared ownership – at Pelham Waterside, next to the city’s flagship Trent Basin eco housing project, via its subsidiary Pelham Homes. Paul adds: “If talk to my friends about work, they’re surprised we build houses that compete with the private sector. “But it allows us to do some more of our charitable work


and we punch above our weight in terms of new development. “We also have more than 150 almshouses and have some


properties at a sub-market private for the private sector. We think of this as all part of the housing jigsaw.”


WHILE HOUSING IS the nuts and bolts of NCHA’s operation, its reach extends further. For example, it provides more than a million hours of


care services for some of its 20,000-plus tenants, ranging in everything from daily personal medication reminders to support with planning meals and getting shopping done. The organisation also part-owns a training company,


Access Training, alongside fellow Chamber strategic partner Futures Housing Group. Paul says this is a “fantastic vehicle” for delivering


apprentices – there are about 50 within the 1,100 workforce – and has taken on renewed significance since the introduction in 2017 of the apprenticeship levy, a tax on businesses with an annual payroll exceeding £3m that can be claimed back to fund apprenticeship training. It is also one of 11 housing associations that founded Blue Skies Consortium in 2006 to build new homes that meet


Paul Moat has been chief executive of NCHA since 2018


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