Lions led by donkeys – the death throes of East Kent Housing

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

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5 Comments on Lions led by donkeys – the death throes of East Kent Housing

  1. An EKH Employee // June 7, 2020 at 11:02 // Reply

    As a non-contributor to this article, and as a EKH member of staff, all I can say it it sums up my own personal thinking perfectly.

  2. Employed by EKH. // June 7, 2020 at 14:27 // Reply

    Spot on the money, well done to those members of staff who put this together. The four Chief Execs are worse than Deborah and Mark Andreson, that’s saying something. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. Sure there are many others who feel like this, but keeping quiet to make sure the mortgage gets paid.

  3. As an EKH employee that has not contributed to this article, it smacks of bitterness and inaccuracies. Firstly there are around 200 staff, not ‘300 or so’ and only 1 year ago we were down to 130. The server IS secure and if staff are downloading sensitive information, it’s their own stupidity and ignorance.

    I personally have felt that all my questions regarding the transition have been answered as best as they can by management and am pleased with how it’s progressing. I am displeased by the lies and scaremongering by the union which isn’t being responded to quickly or at all in some cases by management, thus further adding fuel to the unpleasantness. Why should they be constantly dispelling rumours when staff need to be reading the materials themselves and not coming to nonsense conclusions.
    The Council’s may well restructure as soon as we transfer over but the Councils are ALWAYS restructuring, why do you think we should be invincible?
    I think that the council’s CEO’s are doing well and are engaging with managers and service leaders from throughout the organisation. They’ve got a vested interest in getting it right. Just because they haven’t engaged with each individual member of staff, these ‘writers’ aren’t happy.
    No one likes change but it surprises me how so many people used to fantasize about the ‘good old days’ when we used to be the council and now it’s finally happening, they’re still not happy! Deborah upton…Gone. Mark Anderson…Gone. EKH,..Going. Still not happy, I see a theme occurring.
    Makes me laugh that they think they’re giving the middle finger to management by contributing to this article, but in fact, management won’t care and residents won’t read it. Petty beyond belief. Be grateful that you have a job, a career and you haven’t suffered like so many have in this pandemic.

  4. Employed by EKH // June 8, 2020 at 13:47 // Reply

    It would appear the Tenant Scrutiny Officer (whose comment is above) is cosying up to management. Wonder if she’s still got the hump about being passed over for the Governance Manager position in June 2018?

  5. I’m not sure the councils share the optimism shown above that the data is secure. Indeed, in an official report due to go to Thanet’s Cabinet next week they have stated “the North Gate software is out of support. This poses a significant security and operational risk”

    The risk they are referring to is it hugely increases the risk of a directed cyber attack on the Councils (out of date software is one of the easiest ways to attack a bigger ICT network – witness what happened to Kent Commercial Services recently) and people’s personal data is at risk too.

    It’s incredible how it has got to this stage. I don’t think the blame can only be directed at EKH. The “client officers” who work for the Councils have been asleep at the wheel on this and have allowed it to happen.

    For the record, I don’t work for EKH and haven’t got any axe to grind apart from making sure taxpayers money is used wisely. In this case it is clearly not being used wisely. The demise of EKH is diverting real money away from funds used for repairing tenants homes etc. It’s nothing short of scandalous.

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