Northumberland County Council

Northumberland County Council provides a support service for CLH organisations, both those starting up and those that already have schemes underway or completed. It is focused on governance and business planning and is part of the Council’s overall support for community regeneration and social enterprise development. Set out below are key aspects of the advice the local authority gives to CLH groups.

Good Governance in a CLH organisation

  • The board of a CLH organisation is its strongest asset; the way that it runs affects everything that the organisation does.  It is legally responsible for everything that the organisation does and so everyone on the board needs to understand their responsibilities and how that can be devolved to other board members, working groups, staff and to volunteers
  • The make-up of a board will be initially defined by a governing document (usually articles or a constitution).  This could be as simple as setting the minimum number on the board or may specify the voting procedure and/or constituencies of membership of the board
  • However the governing document defines the board, it is advisable to encourage CLH groups to develop key roles where individual board members, whether they are elected or invited to the board, understand clearly what they are there to do and feel comfortable about bringing relevant skills to the function of the board
  • The underlying principle around board member selection must always be that board members are committed to the social motivation of the organisation – community-led housing.  This is the fundamental starting point.  The board must understand that all decisions made within the organisation (by everyone) are the responsibility of the board.  It therefore makes sense to set clear guidelines about decision making and levels of responsibility for all those involved in the organisation
  • Everyone on the board should subscribe to the underpinning social objects of the company and the principles of community-led housing
  • Whether a group is establishing a new board to deliver a CLH project, or evaluating an existing one, it is useful to consider the following skills and their potential responsibilities on the board.  Try to look at whether the existing, or potential, board members can cover these skills.  If not encourage the group to find ways of filling these gaps


  • Budget setting
  • Cash flow monitoring
  • Reconciliation
  • Liaison with accountant / book-keeper

Income Generation

  • Procurement
  • Grants
  • Trading
  • Significant links with marketing
  • Identification of funding streams
  • Long term sustainability

People Management

  • Line management for key staff
  • Recruitment
  • Disciplinary
  • Appraisal / review / staff training
  • Reviewing Job descriptions
  • Undertaking job evaluation
  • Includes volunteers and other directors / trustees

PR/ Marketing

  • Development of marketing strategy
  • Monitoring of marketing strategy
  • Online / Social Media Marketing strategy
  • Strategy Implementation

Legal / Governance

  • Interface with appropriate legal bodies
  • Ensuring that the organisation adheres to a strong governance model


  • Key point of contact for issues not covered elsewhere – ‘fire fighting’ and day to day operations.

Policies and Procedures

  • Ensure key policies in place
  • Regular Review programme for update and monitoring of procedures by the board

Strategic and Business Planning

  • Driver for planning process, providing framework for:
    • Annual Strategic Review
    • Strategic Plan
    • Business Plan


  • Housing
  • Land issues
  • Property development / maintenance issues
  • Letting arrangements & tenancy
  • Local letting policies
  • Architeture and design

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Ensure organisation is fulfilling needs of stakeholders and stays ‘real and effective’

The County Council has also developed a checklist of issues it needs to consider when starting work with a CLH organisation, whether through a partnership, funding agreement or some other means of support. This checklist may be useful for other local authorities.

Evidence of Demand

  • Community Consultation
  • County Housing Strategy
  • National Housing Strategy
  • NCC Corporate Policy
  • Local Housing Needs studies
  • White paper on Housing
  • Internal check against Homefinder

Evidence of Ability

  • Appropriate legal form (i.e. limited liability)
  • Board member individual skills
  • Board collective governance model (e.g. skills based / understanding roles and responsibilities)
  • Specific housing delivery model (e.g. RSL / partnership / CLT / DT)
  • New group / Extension of existing community organisation / developer led
  • Staff skills (where relevant)

Evidence of support organisations engaged

  • Evidence of Understanding Stakeholders
  • Who are the key partners?
  • How will key partnerships work?

Evidence of Development Funding Plan

  • Overall project capital funding costs
  • Overall development revenue costs
  • Match funding plans
  • Amount required from the fund for capital works
  • Amount required from the fund for revenue project development

Evidence of Sustainable Business Model

  • Overall organisational strategic plan
  • Project sustainable business plan
  • Three year cash flow projection demonstrating financial independence

Evidence of Long Term Community Benefit

  • Meeting identified community need (housing need, vulnerable groups, empty property and /or land, community cohesion, anti-social behaviour…)
  • Long term community involvement in developing, owning, managing and allocating housing
  • Demonstrating how housing will remain ‘affordable’
  • Demonstrating how housing will be secured long term (e.g. asset lock, covenant?)


More information on Northumberland County Council’s support for governance and business planning with CLH organisations is available from:


Published in March 2018