HOWCH Membership Policy

a) Members must must be aged over 18

b) Members must work or live in Hastings and St Leonards-on-sea

c) Members must support and promote the aims of HOWCH “to develop affordable housing, community facilities or other assets that meet the needs of the community, with membership open to all local residents and local workers. And in particular their first project to open doors to a CoHousing community for single women over 50”

d) Members must pay a Joining fee £1 non-refundable

e) Please not there is no dividend payable, this scheme is not backed by any compensation scheme or ombudsman

f) If Members fail to attend our AGM or to respond to any of our communications for 2 years their £1 share money will be used as an admin fee to end your membership of HOWCH

g) Membership will be subject to our policies in force at the time and to our formal FCA registration rules. This will be available of our website when we invite you to buy shares.


Use of your personal information – By completing this membership application form you are consenting to your data being held by HOWCH. How HOWCH protect and process information under the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 is below. Other than described here, your personal data will not be shared with any other party


Data Protection Act & General Data Protection Regulation 2018

Description of processing: The following is a broad description of the way this organisation processes data. In some cases, you may need to refer to other personal communications or contracts with you, or you may contact us about your personal circumstances.

Nature of our work: HOWCH is a Community Benefit Society regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. It has been established to acquire and own community assets for the benefit of the community of Hastings and St Leonards-on-sea. Aims include the provision of homes for single women over 50 with a local connection. It can raise finance through grants and commercial institutions and issue shares to members who wish to support the aspirations of HOWCH.

Reasons for processing information: We process personal information to enable us to administer our membership records and activities including share issue and fundraising, to maintain our own accounts and records arising from our activities.

Type of information processed: Name address, telephone numbers and email addresses

Number of shares held by an individual and any skills volunteered by the individual as helpful to support the CLT

Bank account details for individuals and organisations that lend money, give grants, or sponsorship to HOWCH, require payment from HOWCH, hold contracts or leases or owe the CLT monies or services.

Information from individuals occupying or seeking to occupy property owned by the CLT

Who is the information processed about?

We process information about our members, supporters, participants in our activities, sponsors, suppliers and occupiers or lease holders of any asset owned by the CLT.

Who the information may be shared with?

We sometimes need to share the information with the individual themselves, and with other organisations directly associated with our activities. When this is necessary, we are required to comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act (DPA). Examples of the occasions we may need to share some of the personal information we process for one or more reasons are:

Where necessary we may share information with family, associates and representatives of the person whose personal data we process. We may be legally required to divulge information by HMRC, the Financial Conduct Authority or the Courts. Where contracts, agreements or leases require personal information to be disclosed to credit reference agencies for credit worthiness, the individual will be informed, and agreement sought. When doing so we will conform to all Data Protection requirements.

Transferring information overseas: We do not transfer any personal information outside the United Kingdom.

Individual rights

On request to the Secretary, an individual may ask to see a copy of all their personal data held by HCLT and may request changes or removal. We will respond within 28 days. Where total removal of information conflicts with our legal obligations we will inform the individual as this may lead to a change in membership or contractual status.


  1. Membership of the Community Benefit Society will not be restricted by gender or age but by geographic area which is permitted. In the HOWCH Society the membership will not restricted at all, and in fact the public meetings have been and always will be open to all members of the public and have been attended by both genders and all ages. It is intended that the Board will be diverse.
  2. It has always been intended that the first project will be an intentional community delivered for single women over 50, with a view to other projects following using this model.These women are of course very often the mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers of the whole of the community. Please see the NOTES below for a detailed explanation of the facts behind the project.
  3. Part 7 of the Equality Act 2010 prohibits ‘associations’ (whether incorporated or not) from discriminating against persons in the arrangements they make for deciding who to admit to membership,BUT there is an exemption for special purpose associations which will cover this first project to deliver an intentional community for single women over 50, as it provides for an exception for both age and sex.

Schedule 16 paragraph 1 of the Equality Act 2010 provides an important exception. It states as follows:

  1. An association does not contravene section 101(1) by restricting membership to persons who share a protected characteristic.
  2. An association that restricts membership to persons who share a protected characteristic does not breach section 101(3) by restricting the access by associates to a benefit, facility or service to such persons as share the characteristic.
  3. An association that restricts membership to persons who share a protected characteristic does not breach section 102(1) by inviting as guests, or by permitting to be invited as guests, only such persons as share the characteristic.
  4. Sub-paragraphs (1) to (3), so far as relating to race, do not apply in relation to colour.
  5. This paragraph does not apply to an association that is a registered political party.

So while associations cannot generally discriminate against persons, an association may restrict its membership to persons who share a protected characteristic. The Equality Act 2010 is therefore designed to prevent associations serving general purposes from discriminating but to allow the formation of associations, such as HOWCH, which intend to deliver homes to specifically support the specific needs of a particular social group.

Sex discrimination
Although a person’s sex is a protected characteristic, therefore, it is lawful for an association to restrict membership to persons who share that characteristic (i.e. women).

Age discrimination
Age is also a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. it is lawful for an association to restrict membership to persons who share that characteristic (i.e. older women).



Older women are twice as likely as men to live alone. 61% of women aged 75 and over live alone compared with 32% of men 58% of women aged 75 – 84 are widowed compared to 24% of men in the same age group. Among men aged 85 and over, 45 per cent are still married compared with 9 per cent of women. 79% of women over 85 are widowed, compared with 47% of men. 30% of women reaching State Pension Age in 2005 were entitled to a full basic pension, compared to 85% of men.

Department for Work and Pensions, The Gender Impact Assessment of Pension Reform, 2007, page 10

17% of 75+ population lives in poverty – majority of these women. Nationally, two thirds of pensioners living in poverty are women

Office for National Statistics, General Household Survey: results for 2006, © Crown Copyright 2008, table 3.4, 60 Ibid, table 5.2b


Female pensioners on average have lower incomes than men, which is a result of a number of factors:

  • women have had lower employment rates, partly because they are more likely to have taken on caring responsibilities and so are likely to have built up lower entitlements to state and private pensions;
  • women in employment have had lower average earnings, and may either have built up lower pension funds or may not even have been eligible to be a member of
  • an employers’ pension scheme and
  • in the past married women were able to pay a reduced rate of National Insurance, which did not earn them an entitlement to the state pension in their own right.


Death of one’s spouse becomes increasingly more common at older ages, particularly for women; 23 per cent of women aged 65-74 were widowed compared to 11 per cent of men of the same age. Among women aged 75 and over the percentage of widows increases sharply to 61 per cent; the percentage for widowed men increases to 27 per cent. ONS 2009.


85+ Women more likely to live in an institutional setting – 23 per cent of older women live in communal settings compared with only 12 per cent of men. This difference reflects that oldest old women are, on average older than the oldest old men. It also reflects that women are more likely to be widowed and so without a spouse to care for them. One of the main reasons for the higher presence of women in communal establishments is the gender difference in marital status. Women are more likely than men to be widowed and so be without a spouse who could potentially care for them. Another important factor is the higher level of disability reported by women than men at any given older age.