Wherever I lay my hat: attracting talent builds affordable homes

 
Nicholas McAlpine-Lee
As Paul Young, Michael Bublé, Maroon 5 and even Jason Derulo, for the younger reader among you would testify, after love, home is the most popular subject to be sung about.  In fact after sustenance, shelter is the most important of human needs.
 
As the UK population and standard of living expectations have increased since the industrial revolution, housing provision in the UK has taken many guises – from the philanthropists of the Victorian era such as Peabody, Rowntree and Guinness, to the post war social housing boom of the 1960s. However, since the UK’s housebuilding peak over 50 years ago, demand has consistently outstripped supply and the way we build and fund homes, as well as the tenure in which they are occupied, has become more challenging. 
 
Waiting lists for homes to rent in the social sector are approaching 2 million and rents in the private sector are, in some areas, simply eye watering and provide no security of tenure.  Help-to-buy and starter homes alleviates pressures to some extent but an average £200,000 home requires a household income of around £40,000 a year, compared to the national average salary of £27,600. In addition a full home purchase requires a significant deposit and customers must pass a stringent Mortgage Market Review assessment to obtain mortgage funding. For the majority this is simply out of reach.  
 
So if buying is expensive and renting is less secure what about something in between? Although it has been around for over 30 years, shared ownership has seen huge growth in the last few years.  As it becomes more and more difficult to get on the housing ladder with an outright purchase, ‘buying part’ and ‘renting the rest’ to get a foot on the property ladder in a property that suits your needs makes increasing sense. With security of tenure for over 100 years you can increase your level of ownership whenever you wish or sell your share and move to another property – in some cases you don’t even need a mortgage. 
 
Michael Page has recently been working with heylo Housing, a residential property joint venture formed with Lancashire County Council 18 months ago. Having already delivered over 600 homes in more than 50 local authorities heylo has certainly moved out of its embryonic stage. Having recognised a growing need for private delivery of affordable homes heylo has developed a suite of shared ownership products that include existing homes as well as new build properties. Your Home lets individuals buy existing open market homes, Home Reach is aimed at developers of new build section 106 properties and Let’s Share allows local authorities and housing associations to sub-let properties bought under shared ownership. Working in partnership with more than 90 local authorities heylo are backed by significant pension fund investment. 
 
As helyo moved into their expansion phase they partnered with Michael Page Housing to source and attract key individuals who will support the organisation through its partnering and growth ambitions.  As you would expect from a group of highly successful individuals, who have worked together for a number of years to build the platform and products, the team had a clear idea of the type of individuals they wanted us to find for between three and four senior roles of the same type.    
 
These were newly created roles and as yet untitled – not surprising though for a deliberately informal collegiate team where you don’t find a structure chart, no one really has job titles or PAs, everyone knows what they’re there to do and making a difference is as important as enjoying work. So we had to spend some time with them to find out what outcomes they wanted to achieve and understand the origins, challenges and culture of heylo, in order to build strong candidate specifications. As well as having professional experience, candidates would need to fit seamlessly into a lively, entrepreneurial organisation with few demarcation lines. So candidates who like structure and well established processes, would be unlikely to flourish in an organisation at this stage of its development.  
 
As with all newly created, growth organisations, life moves quickly and we were proud to use our experience and deep sector knowledge to present candidates from a variety of relevant backgrounds in a matter of weeks. This culminated in heylo hiring four people in different roles and employment contracts who will better support their growth. 
 
But don’t just take our word for it; heylo recognised our commitment in finding a solution. Their CEO Nicholas McAlpine-Lee said:  “The key for heylo was broad skill sets, deep experience and that all important team fit. Whilst some of the specifics changed along the way, Michael Page were there to adapt and support the business explore different options to identify an optimal solution”. 
 
All this goes to show that you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
 
 
Mark Beacom
T: +44 20 7269 2122