Clive Bodley – Chief Executive of Alliance Homes

Clive Bodley

This month The North Somerset Business Leader interviews Clive Bodley – who is Chief Executive of Alliance Homes.

Can you tell readers a little bit about your role at Alliance Homes?

I oversee the long-term strategy of the business and together with the board set the future direction for Alliance Homes; and ensure we are using all of our resources efficiently to meet our long-term objectives.

What was your working background prior to joining Alliance Homes?

I have worked across a wide-range of roles in the commercial, public and not-for-profit sector. In the commercial sector my employers have included Clarks Shoes and National Westminster Bank.

I also have qualifications and experience in planning, economic development, management and housing. I took my degree at Oxford Brookes in Urban and Regional Planning.

What do you feel are the attractions and benefits of North Somerset as a business destination?

Well Alliance Homes’ roots are based here because we purchased the housing stock from North Somerset Council. It is a fine location and I would say the strengths and weaknesses to being based here come from its relationship with Bristol.

The strengths being that we benefit from what Bristol, and its wider infrastructure has to offer. The weakness is that North Somerset can become a dormitory for Bristol. Due to this there is a desire that exists widely from figures in business and in the community to establish a strong and independent business community in North Somerset.

Being that you operate in the housing and social sector it is relevant to discuss government welfare reform. Do you feel the proposed welfare cap of 26,000 per-household is just?

I am concerned sometimes that targets such as the welfare cap are based on extreme cases and not the majority circumstance. This carries the risk of unintended and disproportionate affect on those in greatest need.

More generally , welfare reform will have a significant impact on our tenants and we have done a great deal of work to try to help tenants understand how they will be affected by the changes. We have set up a dedicated team to deal with questions, give advice and help people to maximize their income and independence.

Which parts of the government’s approach to welfare do you feel could be tweaked?

In a climate where average wages are falling there are many people who are in full-time work and receiving benefits as a mechanism for survival.

Government is justifying cuts by positioning the debate as a battle between ‘skivers’ and ‘scroungers’, whereas we should be fully focused on how best to use what limited resources we have to support those in need and clamp down on those who are abusing the system.

The greater the division between the haves and the have nots the greater the risk of social unrest that will exist.

Many people feel that a reduction in welfare spending is necessary in order to tackle the deficit, what would you say to this argument?

Well I do not necessarily get exercised about an arbitrary cap on some elements of welfare spending but I do about massive sums of money being spent on the transformation and administration of the way welfare payments are administered.

For example, here at Alliance Homes we will have to spend £350,000 as our part of the implementation of changes that are being made due to welfare reform. What I’d rather see is less tinkering with systems and more investment in meeting needs.

Even small and sensible adjustments would be tolerated rather than a wholesale and expensive scrapping of one system which will most likely end up being replaced by another when the next government is formed.

Moving onto the economy – would you like to see a plan B?

It is evident that expectations for the national economy have not been delivered so far and this extends to the period of austerity that we have been through. So yes, I would be encouraged to see the development of a plan B.

Meanwhile though, we as a company will continue to make the best of any opportunities that exist in North Somerset. I would also say that it is important for businesses to look beyond government and make the best of what they’ve got.

Housing Minister Nick Boles recently advocated increasing the amount of developed land and significantly boosting the UK’s housing stock. Do you feel this is needed?

Regarding housing there is clearly a shortage of supply and this can create artificial prices in terms of house purchases and rents. Across the South West housing supply is only sixty per-cent of new households formed and the pressure this creates on the housing market will need to be addressed by a radical increase in supply. Many will recognise this principle but so often it is local opposition that prevents it happening.

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