Data Protection and Risk in the Housing Sector
Meet Charlotte Hogg (Char)
Before joining DPP, Char worked in the housing sector for five years. Previously, she worked for one of the South West’s leading Housing Associations (HAs) predominately supporting their Audit and Risk function, working in several roles including Data Protection Lead and Interim Data Protection Officer (Outsourced DPO). During this time Char was able to build a diverse portfolio of skills and experience. This allowed her to work closely with key stakeholders, third parties and most importantly their customers. This was a great opportunity for personal growth, experience, and development.
Char felt it was time for a change and wanted to expand her data protection knowledge further afield. She was interested in developing my knowledge outside of the housing sector when a role came up with DPP, and instantly knew that this would be the perfect opportunity for her.
Char is now an integral part of the team here at Data Protection People, not only supporting our clients with various challenges but also contributing to the business by hosting blogs and writing articles that help our wider community of practitioners.
Meet Becky Tucker
Becky has worked in the Housing Sector for almost 13 years, always working within the Audit and risk function. In 2018 she also took on the ‘get ready for the GDPR compliance’ as Becky already had Data Protection within her area of responsibility. Many associations will remember the race against the clock, to get to compliance before the deadline. She has always enjoyed working closely with Boards and Committees and found it incredibly enjoyable, balancing their requirements of gaining assurance from functional areas with continuous improvement.
Having gained all this experience, always at the back of her mind she has kept this dream to take her passion for risk and compliance and ‘go it alone’. However, the risk manager in her has always kept her from realising this, until now. As she moved from one organisation last year to another that was going through a merger, she felt as though now was the time to take the plunge and go at it alone. Becky works with a wide range of fantastic organisations within the sector, sharing her extensive housing experience around to benefit others.
What are the main Data risks facing the Housing Sector?
Aside from the usual risks surrounding data, there are two key risks facing housing associations. These are:
- The increased difficulty in finding adequate Cyber Security Insurance cover
- Phishing attacks
There has been a huge increase in HA’s being told that they’ll have to pay extortionate premiums to get adequate Cyber Security coverage. Or, in a lot of cases, Housing Associations are being told that within the next two years that they will not qualify for this cover. This poses a huge risk to HA’s when thinking about Cyber Security as it has the possibility of leaving HA’s open and vulnerable to significant threats. This links in with the rise of phishing attacks. Data Protection People are seeing regularly that HAs are becoming a big target as phishing attacks become more sophisticated and more and more attacks are successfully taking place against organisations. Fundamentally, this is putting a target on the backs of many housing associations as they try and strengthen their security to not risk losing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds as well as their services going down for unknown periods of time.
“Becky: Our mission at House of Risk is working to raise the profile of Risk Management in the sector, moving us away from a purely transactional, box-ticking exercise. The sector is currently working in an environment that has never been more challenging. An uncertain political landscape, pressures of cost of living, rent increases and funding issues are all headlines, but these are challenges for everyone in business today. However, specific challenges for the sector in my view are the trade-off between the costs of decarbonisation, which have been estimated at £3.5bn a year across the whole of UK social housing through to 2050 to get to net zero.”
Negative media coverage of poor social housing conditions has knocked the sector’s reputation and is calling associations to [re]consider communication with residents, with reforms underway as a result. Post Grenfell has exposed a lack of data quality across the board too. It should no longer be acceptable to have data held on numerous spreadsheets across an organisation. Instead, a focus on digitisation is required and with that comes financial investment. This is a particular issue in the housing sector where we see mergers and takeovers taking place regularly. We have seen first-hand the impact that poor data quality is having on personal data breaches, where organisations’ data systems are causing errors and subsequently breaching the regulations.
Future plans to support the Housing Sector
“Char: Something incredibly exciting to me is that we are planning to set up a Network for Data Protection professionals within the Housing Sector. From experience, I know that sometimes it can feel like you’re coming up against barriers across your organisations, may this be internal or external. And I would like this to be a space where Data Protection professionals can come together to seek and share advice on the weird and wonderful queries that HA’s face daily. “
Data Protection People manage the UK Housing Data Protection and Security Forum, which is a forum-based Network where like-minded professionals can come together and ask those tricky questions their organisations may be facing! If you would like to become part of the community, click here.
“Becky: We have recently launched a new National Housing Risk Managers Network, a sister network to the one that DPP has launched, above, as our partnership seeks to provide support services to both Data Protection and Risk Professionals in the housing sector.”
House of Risk is also ready to launch a brand-new programme of standalone Risk Management training workshops, called ToolboxPRO. This will include all risk topics from an Introduction to Risk Management to more challenging topics such as Risk Appetite. Some sessions will be delivered in partnership with Data Protection People amongst other collaborators. To visit House of Risk and find out more information, click here.
Data Protection In Housing Event
Data Protection People will be hosting a live podcast in collaboration with Becky Tucker on the 25th of November 2022, during this session, our hosts Charlotte and Becky will join together to discuss the Housing Reform Bill and go over some of the key implications the bill will have on Data Protection. As always this session will be completely free to join and anyone is welcome to get involved, for more information on what we will be discussing and for details on how to register, click here.