The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is offering up to £180,000 for a “commercially astute” candidate to lead the department and oversee its sizeable credit risk portfolio.
The new department chief will replace Dame Melanie Dawes, who moves to the broadcasting and telecoms regulator Ofcom this month.
The advertised salary range – £162,000 to £180,000 – suggests Dawes’s successor could earn more than the departing perm sec did last year, when she took home between £165,000 and £170,000, according to the department’s last annual report.
The job advert stressed that the successful candidate will have considerable commercial responsibilities, as well as overseeing the local government system and leading the government’s response to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.
The successful candidate must be “commercially astute, and financially shrewd in the oversight of a large and growing portfolio of financial investments in housing and infrastructure delivery, understanding risk in an ambiguous environment and making sound judgements”, the advert said.
The appointment comes after the department advertised for a chief financial officer who will be tasked with strengthening “strategic and professional leadership on finance, commercial and wider corporate issues” at the department.
The perm sec will oversee the ministry’s £8.6bn capital spending budget and £2.5bn resource budget for services and day-to-day spending.
“The department’s credit risk portfolio is similar in size to that of a medium-sized bank and the financial and governance responsibilities reflect this,” according to the description of job responsibilities, and the new perm sec will also oversee the Housing Infrastructure Fund – a £5.5bn fund to provide grants to local authorities to provide infrastructure to facilitate housebuilding.
The perm sec will also oversee 12 arm’s-length bodies and agencies that MHCLG sponsors, including Homes England and the Planning Inspectorate, and of “local and regional growth institutions” including local enterprise partnerships and mayoral combined authorities.
The role is being advertised amid a push by MHCLG to implement a series of policies to speed up housebuilding and improve the quality of building work, particularly for homes.
Yesterday housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced that a new regulator, the New Housing Ombudsman, will have the power to force builders to pay out compensation for poor-quality work.
“Homebuyers will be able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster and people can get the compensation they deserve,” Jenrick said.
Meanwhile the department is in the process of setting up a building safety regulator to improve standards in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, and is consulting on environmental standards for homes.
Jeremy Pocklington, director general of housing at MHCLG, will be acting permanent decretary while Dawes’s successor is being appointed.