Just one consumer champion appointed to 10-strong board tasked with setting up regulator

Three housebuilders have joined a board that will oversee the appointment of the long-promised New Homes Ombudsman Service.

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, who was appointed late last year to head up the effort, has announced the creation of a New Homes Quality Board which will devise a code of practice for the housebuilding sector and set up a New Homes Ombudsman Service to enforce it.

The 10-strong board appears to have just one member representing homebuyers, with the other members largely drawn from the building sector.

Natalie Elphicke MP

Dover and Deal MP Elphicke (picture, left), who is a parliamentary private secretary to the housing ministry and has a background in housing finance, will chair the board, with the former head of housing development at Lloyds bank, Douglas Cochrane, as her deputy.

The three housebuilders are represented by Jennie Daly at Taylor Wimpey, Katy Jordan at Storey Homes and Joanne Casey at Mactaggart and Mickel. They join representatives of mortgage lenders, conveyancers and warranty providers, the latter via the chief executive of the NHBC, Steve Wood.

The government’s housing design advisor Nicholas Boys-Smith will also sit on the board. Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at the Citizens Advice Bureau, is seemingly the only consumer voice.

The Home Builders Federation and Homes England have also been given representative but non-voting roles. The board said its constitution ensured that no one body was dominant.

The board is charged with fulfilling the government’s promise to shake up the regulation of the private housebuilding industry with the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman Service. It said in a statement today that the new system will “champion quality new homes and better consumer outcomes for buyers”.

It will oversee the setting up of a code which, according to a consultation already underway, will require developers to have effective complaints procedures in place, with specified timelines within which they have to address any issues that arise - or be potentially subject to a referral to the new ombudsman.

Elphicke said the arrangements will lead to a step change in how new homes are built and sold and how customers are treated. She said: “The board is committed to driving new-build quality and strengthening protections for buyers.

“I firmly believe that ultimately the new arrangements will lead to significant benefits for both consumers and developers.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the body would give “much-needed peace of mind for homebuyers with a strong regulator to help them if things go wrong”.

The board said its intention was to have the system of regulation, now more than four year in the making, set up and in place by the end of the year.

The full list of board members is:

  • Natalie Elphicke OBE MP (independent chair)
  • Douglas Cochrane – (independent deputy chair)
  • Jackie Bennett OBE - UK Finance
  • Joanne Casey - Mactaggart and Mickel
  • Gillian Cooper - Citizens Advice
  • Jennie Daly - Taylor Wimpey
  • Katy Jordan - Storey Homes
  • Paul Smee – Conveyancers Association
  • Nicholas Boys-Smith - Create Streets
  • Steve Wood – NHBC
  • The following also attend the board as representative, (non-voting) members;
  • Barry Cummins - Homes England
  • Steve Turner – Home Builders Federation.