Not one of the four Councils of East Kent, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, and Thanet received more than seventeen percent support from tenants and leaseholders with regards to the consultation about bringing their East Kent Housing managed stock back in house; which ran between 22 October and 20 December 2019. Putting that into perspective 69% of tenants supported setting up East Kent Housing
These figures can hardly be called a resounding success or even an endorsement that coming back in house is what tenants and leaseholders truly want, there is NO evidence of that.
Due to nearly 10,000 compliance issues across all four Councils housing stock, set out in the July 2019 Tenant Health & Safety report, it became necessary for the Council to consider bringing their council stock back under their control. This prompted all councils to start the consultation process discussion. It was agreed by all councils to begin a consultation with tenants and leaseholders which started on the 22 October and ran until 20 December 2019.
In Dec 2019 the decision to replace the board of EKH with the four councils Chief Executives was taken
All council tenants and leaseholders across the district were sent a letter, information sheet and questionnaire inviting them to give their views, and an online version of the questionnaire was available on the council’s website.
Additionally, key stakeholders including all district councillors of the four Councils, county councillors, MPs, Citizens Advice Bureaux, Kent County Council Social Services, Kent Police and the NHS were emailed directly inviting them to respond to the consultation. It would appear that few if any of the above actually bothered.
The full consultation reports are set out below. However, a snapshot of
comments made by respondents who strongly agree or tend to agree with
the proposal stated there was:
Lack of action by East Kent Housing to deal with repair and maintenance issues.
Lack of communication from East Kent Housing
Unhappy with the general standard of service provided by East Kent Housing
Full Consultation responses for each Council
Before bringing EKH managed housing stock back under Council control, guidance requires each council has undertaken a cost-benefit analysis and risk analysis exercise before reaching a final decision. All four Council’s Cabinets and full Councils need to consider the two documents before reaching a decision on the report’s recommendations.
The four councils as joint owners of EKH will need to achieve a mutually agreed termination of the contract, in accordance with the terms of the owners agreement. Once the process has been concluded, it is proposed that an in-house service be established through a two-stage process, as follows:
Taking the minimum legal and administrative action needed to close down EKH and pass responsibility to each council. This will involve transferring the housing management service from EKH to each council without significant change.
Drawing up proposals for the future housing service, which will cover new governance arrangements, organisational structures, integration with existing council services (e.g. call handling, property and grounds maintenance, community safety, communications and ICT) and the priorities and plans of the new service.
The four councils will establish a Transition Board to co-ordinate the overall East Kent project, with a transition delivery group, reporting to the board – the four Chief Execs – to manage the delivery of detailed workstreams. It is likely that officers within each council will also need to establish an internal corporate project management group to oversee the legal, financial, human resources and ICT work necessary to wind up EKH and to create new in-house services.
At this stage it is anticipated that the transition to new in-house services is likely to take up to one year. The financial year to 31 March 2021 would, therefore, be a transition year for EKH and the four councils. Establishing an in-house service, if agreed, is complex and will take time to set up. It is therefore assumed that this would need to be completed and the new in-house service fully operational by 1 April 2021.
All those in senior management at East Kent Housing, the four Councils, and the previous board have failed tenants and leaseholders. The fact those who failed tenants and leaseholders are allowed to engage and participate in redesigned services is deeply concerning. We can only see this ending badly, whether it be a year or five down the line.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime