Cyberattack update – how we’re responding to maintain vital services
The Council is continuing to work hard to recover systems needed to resolve significant disruption created by the serious cyberattack that has prevented residents accessing some Council services in recent weeks.
This was an advanced, criminal cyberattack that has affected a large number of Council services, and the Council is working alongside the National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency to investigate the attack and get these restored.
While some of our services may be unavailable or disrupted for months, key essential services, including our coronavirus response, continue to operate. Some vital services that had been disrupted have now fully or partially returned, or the Council’s teams have created new or temporary ways for residents to access them. These include:
- Housing – the system that residents use to bid for a new home or a housing transfer is back up and running. New properties will be available for residents to bid on from midnight tonight.
- Recycling – residents can email email@example.com or call 020 8356 6688 to order recycling bags and food waste bins. We are currently processing nearly as many orders as we normally do. From December, we are launching a new system, which includes a collection day alerts, and a normal service will resume.
- Payments – we’ve made sure that regular benefit payments are continuing, although some minor discrepancies may occur, and have created interim arrangements to give financial support to people making new benefit claims.
What’s still disrupted, temporary arrangements and what you might need to do differently
The cyberattack has affected systems used across the Council and is impacting different services in different ways. Some of the areas most impacted that may be unavailable or operating differently until at least the New Year include:
Land searches and planning applications
The systems that the Council uses to process new planning applications and the land searches needed for property sales are affected.
We are hoping to offer a partial land search service in the coming weeks, but we don’t expect to be able to offer full land searches to any resident before the end of the stamp duty holiday. We are therefore advising residents who need to complete a property purchase to speak to their lender or mortgage broker about taking out indemnity insurance. We will be contacting current applicants next week to tell them which elements of the land search we will be able to complete.
We are accepting new planning applications using our new planning system, and can process all planning applications received after 1 October 2020. The vast majority of applications submitted before 1 October 2020 are affected by the cyberattack. We are writing to applicants between now and 20 November to outline the next steps.
Ordering and reporting
The systems the Council uses to process reports such as noise nuisance, antisocial behaviour and missed waste collections, and requests from residents for things like new recycling products, are affected.
Residents can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8356 6688 to order recycling bags, food waste bins and report a missed collection.
Council Tax, benefits and payments
The systems the Council uses to access accounts, create new accounts and process payments for things like benefits, Council Tax, rents and service charges, and the online apps that residents use to manage these themselves, are affected.
This means that we cannot accept some forms of payment, amend existing payment schedules both to and from the Council or make certain one-off payments.
Many payment options are unaffected and are safe and secure to use, such as online payments through our multiple payments portal, over the 24/7 automated phone payment system by calling 020 8356 5050, online bank transfer and at a bank, Post Office or Paypoint location.
Some direct debit payments are being processed in line with the most recent payment on your account. In a small number of cases where this varies slightly from the agreed amount for the next payment, this will be reflected in future payment schedules.
If you need to make a new claim for benefits such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, or Discretionary Housing Payments please submit an application and we will process this as soon as we are able to do so. If you have submitted an application but need urgent assistance, contact the benefits service on 020 8356 3399.