Kent Home Choice procurement update
The Service Manager (Housing Options) gave a presentation on the KentHomeChoice procurement update. The presentation can be viewed via the following link (Public Pack)Housing Committee Presentation on KentHomeChoice Supplementary Agenda Supplement for Housing Services Cabinet Committee, 14/11/2022 19:30
The Committee were informed that KentHomeChoice was a partnership of local authorities and Housing associations that provided social and affordable housing in Kent. The Kent partnership is the biggest in the country, began in 2008 and had been a county delivery since with many partners represented across local authorities and housing associations acrpssKent.
The system had both a front office system for the customer called KentHomeChoice and a back-office system for officers called Locata. The customer system advertises the available social homes and customers can place bids for these properties. The back-office system manages both the housing register and the homelessness case work conducted under the Homelessness Reduction Act. The Locata contract will come to an end in July 2023.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) explained to the Committee that Gravesham was part of a working Group with other local authorities, in which Dover District Council were the lead authority. Dover District Council undertook a procurement process in early 2022 which included nominating senior officers from 6 of the 13 Council partners including the Service Manager (Housing Options) from Gravesham.
Members were advised that Huume Ltd won the contract for the new Homechoice system on both price and quality.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) explained the transition between systems with the current Kenthomechoice programme closing to new applications on 1st June 2023. New properties would continue to be advertised via Kenthomechoice until 16th June 2023. After 16th June 2023 all data would migrate to the new system Huume. Huume would then go live on 1st July.
The Committee considered the presentation and highlighted the following:
- The new system offered a more efficient and user-friendly approach for both customers and officers.
- Members wondered how homeless cases would be dealt with in the interim between closure of the Kenthomechoice system on 16th June 2023 and the new Huume system going live on 1st July 2023. The Service Manager (Housing Options) advised the normal statutory functions would remain the same with triage of cases and if temporary accommodation was required this would still be provided.
- Members queried how you became a lead authority for the partnership. The Service Manager advised that Members of the partnership nominated a lead and Dover was selected.
- Whether any issues where foreseen with the standardisation of data. The Service Manager (Housing Options) advised that the transition of data should be smooth and alluded that authorisation had been given for a dedicated administrator to assist with inputting of data. This administrator would not be solely for Gravesham but for all authorities within the group.
- The Committee questioned whether the service users could have the opportunity to view the new system prior to it going live. The Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed this was a valid point and would feed this back to the working group.
- Concern was raised as to whether all authorities involved would be going live on the same date and what disruption this could potentially cause. The Director (Housing) advised that all authorities would go live on the same date and although there would be a four-week window in which no new applications can be taken, the impact would be minimal, as it would be very unlikely someone would be housed in less than four weeks. If there was an emergency case such as fleeing domestic violence temporary accommodation would be used.
- Members queried if being in a partnership with other local authorities would intercept the authority’s procedure rules in the constitution. The Director (Housing) informed the Committee that this would be investigated and communicated back to Members.
The Committee noted the report.