Clarion Housing Group has been unable to provide Camden Council with basic figures for its performance in the borough for the year 2021/2022 due to a cyber attack on its servers in June this year, according to a Council report.
The report for the Housing Scrutiny Committee this month contains an update from the largest housing associations working in the borough.
In Camden there are 46 housing associations (HAs) who own and manage 12,223 homes between them.
Four of them — One Housing Group (OHG), Origin Housing, Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) and Clarion — manage nearly two-thirds of those homes.
“In November 2016, Circle had merged with Affinity Sutton to form Clarion Housing Group (Clarion), which is now the largest HA in the country,” stated a report to the Housing Scrutiny Committee of 25 October 2018.
Clarion has dozens of homes in Fitzrovia mostly in Grafton Mews, Warren Street, and Whitfield Street.
The Council’s housing scrutiny committee reviews the HAs’ progress in delivering and managing new homes in the borough.
“The Council has little formal regulatory control over HAs but instead relies on its strategic partnership working with HAs to resolve issues and to work together to meet borough wide priorities as set out in plans such as the Camden Plan and the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy,” states a report to the committee.
The report states that “due to a major cyberattack, some performance data was unavailable for Clarion”.
Clarion was unable to provide data for voids, evictions, and rent arrears for the financial year 2021/2022. This suggests that the HA did not have a back up of the data that was lost due to the cyber attack, including a record of rent payments.
However, its annual report published on 20 September 2022 stated that “the process to restore our systems is still ongoing” but the “incident did not have any impact on the operations or performance reported in this set of financial statements”. Its auditor KPMG also did not raise any concerns about financial record keeping.
Fitzrovia News asked Clarion about the missing data.
A Clarion Housing Group spokesperson said: “As a responsible organisation, we actively monitor and mitigate cyber security risks, undertaking security reviews and acting upon findings.
“The initial response to the cyberattack we experienced in June was to immediately take our systems offline. As a result, and at the time of providing local performance data to the London Borough of Camden, we were unable to fully access the systems which held this information.
“Restoring our systems in a safe and secure way has taken time but we are pleased to confirm most of our services have now returned to normal.
“It is correct that the incident did not have any impact on the operations or performance reported in our financial statements relating to the financial year ending 31 March 2022,” said the spokesperson.
While Clarion was unable to give Camden a figure for the last financial year on tenant arrears its annual report stated that it is “consistent between years at 5.7 percent” of its rental income.
Fitzrovia News understands that after nearly five months since the cyberattack Clarion is now in a position to provide Camden officers with the missing data having retrieved it from a server back up.
Camden’s own figures state that “despite having the least stock of the four HAs, Clarion had the most Member/MP Enquiries, the most Member/MP Enquiries re Repairs, and the most Complaints” to the council’s private sector housing team (PSHT).
“Clarion, NHG and OHG had the equal most Enforcement Notices Issued by PSHT,” states the report.
Councillor Adam Harrison, who represents Bloomsbury ward, has written to Clarion residents in Fitzrovia inviting them to attend the scrutiny meeting either in person or via the webcast. He has also asked Clarion residents to contact him about any concerns about the management of their homes so that he can raise them at the public meeting.
The scrutiny committee of 15 November will have the following officers in attendance from the four HAs to answer questions:
- Clarion – Catherine Kyne, Regional Director (London)
- One Housing Group – Sandra Fawcett, Director of Customer Operations
- Origin – Carol Carter, Chief Executive
- Notting Hill Genesis – Richard Bellis, Regional Head (North) | Housing
Housing Scrutiny Committee – Tuesday, 15th November, 2022 6.30 pm.
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