This is a guest post from several members of staff from East Kent Housing
Strange though it sounds, the lock-down couldn’t have come at a better time for the shambolic senior management and Board of East Kent Housing. Not only can the years of inefficiencies and scandalous mismanagement be conveniently swept under the carpet, but more importantly, the organisation itself can be allowed to quietly expire without so much as a whimper.
Spare a thought though for the 300 or so long suffering East Kent Housing employees. The vast majority of officers are hard working professionals, dedicated to supporting the Council tenants and leaseholders of the 17,000 properties they were tasked to manage, but never really given the authority, the resources and much less the leadership to do so in an effective manner. Lions led by donkeys you could say.
The senior management team has been a revolving door of ineptitude for years now, with Deborah Upton presiding over an increasingly unstable empire for far too long before being given the gold plated boot back in December. A Christmas bonus to the beleaguered staff perhaps? Think again. Lumbered instead with the four bumbling Chief Executives seemingly led by Colin Carmichael – who by his own admission was “making it up as we go along” when deciding the future of people who rely on their jobs to pay rent and mortgages, to support their families and for basic survival in some cases. Ever since December staff have been told that following the inevitable demise of East Kent Housing, restructures will be efficiently implemented and that there will definitely be “more jobs than people” going forward. In view of the number of staff (including project managers, team leaders, contracts managers and procurement managers) who saw the writing on the wall and have already jumped ship, that statement seems like a huge understatement. More jobs maybe – but at what grade? The caring sharing hastily assembled Board are strangely tight lipped on what this myriad of glittering opportunities may look like. In fact, although staff were required to indicate a preference of which Council they’d like to work for more than two weeks ago, absolutely no details of what structures, jobs or salaries have been made available and seem unlikely to be shared until the end of June at the earliest.
Since lock-down, some of East Kent Housing’s major contractors have furloughed their operatives leaving many staff with very little to do as their day to day jobs would have involved managing these contractors. Added to this dramatic reduction in work volume, nearly all East Kent Housing staff have been working at home for the past 11 weeks – often accessing personal and sensitive information relating to tenants via insecure private WiFi networks.
The lockdown could have been a great opportunity for the Board to reassign underused staff to shape new arrangements themselves, developing roles and structures which are dynamic and fit for purpose. Instead, staff are languishing at home – and yet again, the tenants, leaseholders and hard working staff are at the back of the queue when it comes to the management of East Kent Housing.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime