Updated: 9.30am 24/04/20
On the 27th May, Folkestone & Hythe District Council Cabinet met over Zoom to discuss Report Number:C/20/06, the East Kent Housing (EKH) Single System. This is the outdated Northgate system holding all the data for all four councils.
The data needs to be extracted by Northgate, as each council are bringing housing back in house, due to EKH ceasing to exist as of the 1st Oct 2020.
At the Cabinet meeting of the 27th May, Cllr David Godfrey made it clear all four councils had managed to bring down the costs of extraction to £135,000 each, plus a one off fee of £17,000 to move the system to the cloud; and ongoing revenue costs of £82,000, so a total of – £234,000.
Cabinet members , especially Cllr Tim Prater – had concerns about costs put forward by Northgate, so decided to defer the issue to see if a better price could be obtained.
The report was brought back before Cabinet on the 22nd July, after seeking advice from the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation (SOCITM) to review the initial £234,000 proposal from Northgate. The costs for the SOCITM report was £8,800 plus VAT.
The Cabinet Report:C/20/26 sets out revised costs of £130,000 for extraction, £17,000 to move to the cloud, plus ongoing revenue costs of £105,000 per annum, and don’t forget to add the £8,800; which gives a total cost of £260,800, which the Cabinet voted on unanimously.
So the new Northgate proposal has costs the ratepayer more money, rather than less, by £26,000.
If we look at the Total Cost of Ownership over a 5 year period it looks like this: Pre-negotiation = £587k. Post negotiation = £680k. Effectively, the recent renegotiating with Northgate has cost an extra £100k over a typical 5 year ownership cycle.
This all came about because all our Cabinet members asked Council managers to negotiate a better deal. Regardless of the advice, or rather recommendations from Socitm, it appears the seasoned software commercial company Northgate won and successfully forced the price up.
What also needs to be taken into account is the extra cost of address matching (buried in the report, costs unknown) and the Information at Work license costs (costs unknown). It is also worth mentioning the footnote of the wasted investment to date of £625k in building a single system (these won’t include staff costs so the amount of wasted money will be even higher)
You can bet your house that the cost of this will rise and rise once “further discovery work” (ie doing your homework which should have been done before making the decision to come back in house) continues.
What a mess and the mess is only just starting.
Moving on, the next Audit & Governance meeting is due to be held on the 30th July. The external auditor of the Council’s finance – Grant Thornton – have said the value for money conclusion for 2018/19 has yet to be issued, and will not be able to issue a value for money conclusion for 2019/20. They might be saying something similar next year, as the council’s attempts at bringing costs down for the single system, has ended up costing so much more.
Now while we are speaking of East Kent Housing, their temporary staff costs between Jan 2018 and March 2020 were £3.7 million.
We also note the number of LGSR’s have risen slowly during the covid-19 pandemic. However, a number of senior EKH sources have stated this is NOT all due to engineers not being able to gain entry to the properties due to tenants self isolating. Some of it is due to a lack of engineers and appointments missed by them.
So, significant issues still exist for EKH. Data is still sitting on outdated servers with outdated software. Temporary Staff costs are ridiculously high; and the number of gas safety checks is ludicrously high once again.
It’s not yet clear if bringing EKH back in house is a wise decision. Only time will tell. However, bringing it back in house with staff who previously worked for East Kent Housing may NOT be such a clever idea. You can take five to consider these facts.
Hat tip to Jane.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime