“The servers that the [East Kent Housing] system runs on are due for replacement and the Northgate software is out of support. This poses a significant security and operational risk. Should a fault occur, we would have limited support from the supplier. In the event of a total service failure, there is a risk of data loss and recovery of the service would be both time consuming and complex.” and for good measure expensive to fix.
The risk to all the tenants data; which cannot be sensibly ignored by all four Councils who own East Kent Housing, have set out the timeline and the costs for migrating the data, being run on servers, not compliant with the most basic data safety standards.
All councils agree the approach and funding and instruct Northgate to begin the process of migrating the system by the end of June.
The current system is collectively migrated to the cloud and tested by November/ December 2020.
Northgate prepares the servers for four separate systems and establishes connections to individual authorities by the end of September for testing.
The data is split into individual council systems in January and February 2021.
Each of the four systems is upgraded to the latest version of the software in March 2021, at which point each authority will have its own system under its own control.
The transition of the single system, where tenant data is held, to each individual authority is neither easy nor cheap. The indicative costs per council currently being discussed, make it clear moving the single system to the cloud will cost each council approx £17,000 (one off). To split the system into four and move it to an individual system for each authority will cost – £135,000 (one off) (Cheaper options are being sought). Then there are the ongoing revenue costs from January 2021, which amount to £82,000 per year. This gives a combined total of £690,000. publicly
It’s clear we and others were right in not sharing the optimism that the data held on the East Kent Housing systems is secure. Nor will it be until at least the end of this month.
The systems used by East Kent Housing holds personal information, as well as sensitive personal information on all its 40,000 plus council tenants who live in the 17,000 plus council homes, owned by Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe and Thanet Councils. These are all managed by the largest Arms Length Management Organisation in the country, East Kent Housing (EKH).
It’s quite incredible how it has got to this stage. To be fair EKH are not wholly responsible for this latest issue. “Client officers” Chief Execs and the Cabinet members for housing for each Council should also take some responsibility for this latest clanger. They too have been asleep at the wheel, and have allowed it to happen. At Folkestone & Hythe District Council Council these people are Client Officer – Adrian Hammond, Chief Exec – Dr Susan Priest, Cabinet Member for Housing – Cllr David Godfrey(Con).
It’s clear with hindsight, setting up East Kent Housing was filled with good intentions, but the reality within 9 years has shown that outsourcing council systems has led to a dysfunctional organisation, no longer fit for purpose.
Since 2014 EKH have not been best value for money. It has not always used the taxpayer pound wisely, which is a requirement of all Chief Execs in any council. The demise of EKH is diverting real money away from funds which ought to be used for repairing tenants homes and other matters. As a reader of the blog has said “It’s nothing short of scandalous.”
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