Slum Landlord, Double Payments, Overcharging and Killing Pensioners

Double payments, overcharging, lack of adherence to legislation and a failure to manage the P & R contract, and all the issues raised in Appendix 3: Audit report for East Kent Housing (EKH) – tenant health and safety, were known about as early as July 2018 by East Kent Housing.

On the 5th July 2018, the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing, Deborah Upton and former Director of Property Services Mark Anderson both received a draft report which was issued by East Kent Audit Partnership. On the 3rd Oct 2018, the final report was issued to the people above, the Assistant Director of Property Services and  all the client officers in all four Councils who own East Kent Housing – Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils. A copy of the report can be downloaded here – Contract Management of Planned Contracts (released under FoI)

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The report titled: Contract Management of Planned Contracts, makes it clear that in July 2018 there were:

  • Extensive over charging and double charging by contractors which has cost the public purse £millions

  • no pre or post inspections undertaken on the 927 boiler installations – not one.

  • A new IT  system which has massively overspent, costing £millions and is still not fully working

  • Failure to check the quality and safety of finished works

  • Officers not qualified or experienced in checking contractors work forced to do so

  • Poor and incompetent contract management and supervision

  • Vacant properties left far too long before letting,  losing rental income

  • Hundreds of gas and electrical safety checks not carried out in time

In an FoI released to our public face, the four councils made it known that there had been 991 boiler installations in 2017/18, they say 927, a discrepancy of 64 installations.

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There is substantiated evidence of double payments and overpayments to P & R, and that contract charges went “unchallenged“. It is also clear that the mechanism of payment – P & R send costs to EKH, EKH check then send to the Councils was bypassed. P & R went straight to the Councils in breach of the contract.

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As an aside, double payments made by Folkestone & Hythe District Council is not new. They made double payments to HAGS SMP Ltd and to Alliance Building Company Contracts Ltd. And overcharges are not new either as on a previous EKH managed contract with M & R refurbishment, £184,000 worth of overcharges were made.  All these double payments and overcharges demonstrate there is a lack of suitable checks and controls when it comes to paying suppliers by the four Councils.

We made claims as early as May 2018 about double payments and overcharging, two months before any report was issued. The final report issued in Oct 2018 made eight recommendations, five of them critical.

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So it is clear, as early as as July 2018, East Kent Housing knew there was “non-compliance with significant pieces of legislation which the organisation was to adhere to” and that double payments and overcharging were happening, validating our claims made in May 2018. So under the previous Folkestone & Hythe District Council administration, 23 conservatives and 7 UKIPPERS, information was withheld from Cllrs and the public (not for the first time), because such reports would embarrass the Council. It might appear to you and the wider world, our Council have a unjustified fear of telling the truth, because they might be embarrassed due their ongoing failure to comply with their statutory legal and financial obligations.

The report Contract Management of Planned Contracts is with all opposition member Cllrs who sit on the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. If they fail to follow recommendation 2 in Report Number C/19/29 before them tonight,

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it will demonstrate to us, and no doubt you, that our newly elected opposition Cllrs have no intention of changing the status quo in our Council chamber. Let’s hope and pray they do the right thing tonight.

East Kent Housing and the four Councils who own it, have an historic record of being a slum landlord, as they knew in June 2017 that 22% of Council housing stock across all four districts was “not fit for purpose. The Regulator of Social Housing issued a critical-report in Sept 2019 of Folkestone & Hythe District Council and how it has failed to look after and manage its social housing stock.

We note that an 85 year old pensioner on Romney Marsh raised issues about his heating not working on Sept 11th 2019. This was the case for a whole year while P & R were the contractor. One month on Oct 2019 the pensioner still has no heating. All one hears from the Council and EKH are excuses while a pensioner suffers. Must another pensioner die of hypothermia as one did in Whistable in Jan 2018 while living in an EKH managed property?

EKH and its senior management team have deservedly gained a reputation as being  slum landlords who are  responsible for the death of at least one of its tenants and endangering  the lives of thousands more.

East Kent Housing must die, it is clear from all the evidence it is an organisation not fit for purpose, and perhaps Cllr Connor McConville’s comment about pursuing the destruction of East Kent Housing is the right call after all. Let’s hope that Cllrs vote to withdraw for East Kent Housing and begin a consultation with the tenants, so allowing them to choose if EKH lives or dies, that’s true democracy.

The Shepwayvox Team

Not Owned by Hedgefunds or Barons

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2 Comments on Slum Landlord, Double Payments, Overcharging and Killing Pensioners

  1. Another excellent article, well done to the SV Team. If our Cllrs on O & S do not vote to withdraw, I for one won’t be voting green in Hythe again.

  2. doggerbank56 // October 16, 2019 at 10:03 // Reply

    The demise of East Kent Housing cannot come quickly enough. It is an organisation with a track record of failure, graft and dangerous incompetence. You should offer a platform to those past and present councilors who were charged with its oversight and ask them to explain the reasons for their neglect and gross failure of oversight. Tenants and local council tax payers are perfectly entitled to hold them to account. Are they prepared to face the music?

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