Natalie Elphicke will chair interim board designed to deliver service by the beginning of 2021

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke is to chair an interim board set up to oversee the appointment of a new independent housing ombudsman and the creation of a code of industry practice which the sector will have to abide by.

Natalie Elphicke MP

Dover and Deal MP Elphicke, who is a permanent private secretary to the housing ministry and has a background in housing finance, will lead a board charged with overseeing the creation of the new ombudsman role by the start of 2021.

The government announced plans to create a “new homes ombudsman” in 2018 to protect buyers of shoddy new homes who need redress.

Elphicke, was last summer named “new homes quality champion” by the government, prior to being elected as an MP in the 2019 election. She will now lead an interim board which includes Taylor Wimpey’s group operations director Jennie Daly and Story Homes’ managing director Katy Jordan, set up to get the ombudsman service up and running.

The board is tasked primarily with developing a process by which a New Homes Ombudsman is appointed, as well as completing the creation of an industry code of practice for housing developers, and setting up an ombudsman service to adjudicate against the code.

It will also oversee the appointment of a permanent ombudsman board and devise a reporting system to measure the performance of housebuilders on build quality.

Government announced plans for the new service to help new home buyers following widespread concern over the quality of new homes constructed in the UK. Since the announcement, the quality of new homes has begun to improve, according to the Home Builders’ Federation’s customer satisfaction survey, but the government has stuck to its plans.

Natalie Elphicke described the appointment of the interim board as a “welcome move”. She said: “I am committed to ensuring that the new arrangements will deliver a step change in the quality of new homes and customer experience. They will be based in the principles of independence, transparency and integrity, values I know this Government, and the industry, are determined to instil.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the HBF, said the move demonstrated the commitment of the industry to providing buyers with absolute confidence in their builder and the quality of their new home. He said: “Customers will be reassured that in the instances where they do have issues with their new home, they will have recourse to a fast, effective independent dispute resolution service via an ombudsman. The new robust arrangements will provide a huge challenge for builders but the industry fully recognises the need to deliver, and we will.”

The new code is expected to require builders to provide more detailed information to customers during the sales process, a tightened up final sign off process to ensure the home is ‘complete’ before mortgage money is released, and to deal with any snagging issues within a set time in years 1 and 2 of occupation.

As well as housebuilders, the interim board includes representatives from Homes England, mortgage lenders, citizens advice and warranty providers.

The members of the interim board are:

  • Jackie Bennett- UK Finance
  • Joanne Casey - Mactaggart and Mickel
  • Gillian Cooper - Citizens Advice
  • Douglas Cochrane – Independent
  • Barry Cummins – Homes England
  • Jennie Daly - Taylor Wimpey
  • Natalie Elphicke – MP (independent chair)
  • Katy Jordan- Storey Homes
  • Paul Smee – Conveyancers Association
  • Nicholas Boys-Smith – Create Streets
  • Steve Wood – NHBC