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Before joining Peabody in March 2004, he was chief executive of the Amicus Group, which became AmicusHorizon Group in 2006, and Swale Housing Association. Both organisations are now part of AmicusHorizon.
Howlett was appointed to the Peabody Board on 18 May 2011. He is also a board member of Asset Skills, vice-chair of the Court of the University of Greenwich, and a member of the Guardian Housing Network Advisory Panel.
Howlett was chair of the G15, the group of London's 15 largest housing associations, from June 2009 to June 2011. Among the initiatives launched during his two-year tenure were the pilot London Moves scheme to enable social housing residents to move to sustain or take-up work, and a report produced by the London School of Economics which made the case for investment in affordable housing in London. In support of the report, Boris Johnson, mayor of London, said it "make[s] the most compelling case for the government to concentrate its housing programme where it will deliver the greatest returns for all."
Howlett has presided over notable developments at Peabody including:
- The launch of a programme to install solar photovoltaic panels on its housing stock across London. Due to be completed by March 2012, the programme will see the installation of six megawatt peak (mWp) of solar panels, reducing emissions from Peabody homes by around 2,500 tonnes per year.
- The issuance of a £200 million bond.
- The purchase of The Crown Estate's London housing properties.
- The completion of a London-wide refurbishment programme to ensure Peabody's housing stock meets the Decent Homes Standard.
- The appointment of Osborne, a UK construction and property services company, to carry out repairs and refurbishment works to Peabody's properties across London. The 10-year contract is worth £85 million.
- AmicusHorizon Group Annual report 2005/2006
- AmicusHorizon website
- Executive team members, Peabody website
- Asset Skills Board of Directors
- Members of the Court of the University of Greenwich
- Guardian Housing Network Advisory Panel members
- G15 website
- Capital connect - Inside Housing magazine article
- Press release - Social landlords launch scheme to help people move around London
- Press release - Case for investment in London's affordable housing is overwhelming
- Press release - Peabody appoints Breyer Group to install solar panels
- Inside Housing magazine - Peabody issues £200m bond
- Inside Housing magazine - Peabody completes Crown Estate purchase
- Blog post - The year that was
- Press release - Osborne secures £85m maintenance contract from Peabody