I am concerned that Clarion Housing Association is once again in the news for the wrong reasons, a cyber-attack wiped out some of its IT systems, in particular the direct debit payments for rent payments seem to have been stopped for many tenants, leaving them unclear how to pay their rent. The incident happened on 17th June, but tenants have been left in the dark until recently about what was going on, phone enquiries are only taken for emergency repairs although an online chat facility is now available to take other repairs and payment enquires.
Clarion is the biggest housing association in the country, too big many would say, it manages 125,000 homes and effectively operates using public money without proper representation from its tenants or local communities, given the way such housing association Boards are appointed. It’s the latest incident to affect the housing association, which is already facing an investigation from the Housing Ombudsman after the regulator found severe failings with the recent finding of significant maladministration of leaks, damp and pest infestations, as well as its complaint handling.
This is not in the least unexpected given the problems I have seen locally, Clarion is too big and too remote from the areas it serves. The Housing Minister has been urged to remove and replace the Clarion board with competent Board members by the Social Housing Action Campaign, and I would support this, it needs to engage with tenants and residents over the long-term future of the organisation with a view to breaking up an organisation that has grown far to big.