Midland Heart appoints former housing minister as next chair

We are delighted to have appointed former housing minister Lord Austin as our next chair.

2nd Feb 2023 - Corporate news

John Edwards, who has served as Chairman of Midland Heart since 2014, will stand down having served a maximum nine year term in post in September 2023. 


Lord Austin, who was also previously Minister for the West Midlands, will take over as Chair of Midland Heart in September and will attend Board meetings in an observatory capacity until then.


The former MP for Dudley North will be returning to his roots having previously worked for Focus Housing one of the organisations that merged to create Midland Heart in 2006.


Lord Austin also spent six years working at the Treasury as an adviser to Chancellor Gordon Brown. He currently serves as a Non-Executive Director at Homes England and as the Prime Minster’s Trade Envoy to Israel as well as advising the Richardson Family investment business RCL Partners.


John Edwards is the former Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands and the Rural Development Commission, Chair of the Dudley Group of Hospitals and was awarded his CBE for Services to the Rural Economy in 2008.


We are currently completing the process of recruiting to three further board positions including their Senior Independent Director and will announce who has been successfully appointed to these roles in due course.


John Edwards CBE, current Chair of Midland Heart, said: “It is important that having had a long period of stability on the Board of Midland Heart that we make the changes we need to make this year in a thorough and well-planned way.  The first part of this has been to ensure that we give the next Chair a significant amount of time to learn everything they need to about our customers, business, and colleagues.  Having worked alongside Ian when he was a Minister and I ran our regional development agency I know he will bring a great understanding of the sector and provide strong stewardship for the organisation.”

On behalf of everyone at Midland Heart I congratulate Lord Austin on successfully being appointed as our next Chair. Through his time as Housing Minister, his role with Homes England and having worked for one of our legacy organisations Ian has seen all sides of the housing sector and understands the importance of making every single home a decent, safe, and secure place to live.

Glenn Harris, Chief Executive of Midland Heart

Lord Austin, incoming Chair at Midland Heart, said: “I am delighted to have been appointed the next Chair of Midland Heart, one of the region’s and country’s leading housing providers.  John, Glenn, the current Board and Executive team alongside all other members of Midland Heart staff have done a fantastic job of steering our organisation through significant challenges including a four year rent cut and are ahead of other housing associations on the challenges of the future, having delivered the UK’s first homes to meet the Government’s Future Home Standards and undertaken significant retrofit work to their older homes. I want to support the Midland Heart team in providing a first-class service to is customers and I look forward to learning more about the business over the next nine months and making sure that we continue to provide great quality homes and services to our customers.”