Charities/Housing Associations

Charities, Housing Associations and Not-For-Profit organisations generally have smaller secretariat teams with wider remits. The work in this sector is often more governance focussed with priority placed on liaising with stakeholders and trustees; ensuring best practice.

Charities are regulated by the Charities commission so senior Company Secretaries working within this sector should be well versed in Charity Law and may have completed further CPD with the ICSA in Charity Governance.

Due to the smaller size of many Not-For-Profits, Company Secretaries are often entrusted with other responsibilities such as GDPR compliance, insurance, pension scheme administration and facilities management.

Housing associations

Housing Associations are private, non-profit making organisations that provide low-cost “social housing” for people in need of a home. Any budget surplus is used to maintain existing housing and to help finance new homes and it cannot be used for personal benefit of directors or shareholders.

Although independent, they are regulated by the state and commonly receive public funding. Housing associations may be constituted using various forms of legal entity. Many are industrial and provident societies, but there are also trusts, co-operatives and companies. They may or may not be registered charities.

A feature of housing associations is that, although the larger housing associations usually have paid staff, a committee or board of management made up of volunteers, or paid non-executive members, can have overall responsibility for the work of the organisation. A board might include residents, representatives from local authorities and community groups, business people and politicians.

Housing associations’ day-to-day activities are generally funded by rent and service charges payments made by, or on behalf of, those living in its properties. In this sense, housing associations are run as commercial entities and the majority do not depend on donations for their general activities.

Clearly regulation within this sector is vital and therefore Housing Associations have a great need for company secretarial and governance staff due to the very specific regulations that apply to them. In a similar vein to NFPs, governance staff in Housing Associations often have a broad remit which can include many duties alongside the core statutory compliance and committee and board support.

Often, the governance team in HAs will play an integral role in risk management and policy, ensuring that all stakeholders are actively engaged and committed to pursuing best practice. Equally, HAs can be involved in M&A procedures so the company secretaries will play a key role in administrating those transactions and providing legal counsel to the board when required.

Generally, depending on size, teams in this area have between 2-6 members. Junior level members may take more responsibility for specific committees or other areas of the governance remit such as FOI request or GDPR whilst more senior members may have more involvement with strategic planning and advising the board.

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