UPDATED: 15 March 2021
England saw the lockdown restrictions starting to ease from 8 March. We welcome the Government’s announcement of the four-step roadmap to a more normal life and will continue to monitor guidance closely as we move from one step to the next.
Your safety and the safety of our employees remains our priority. Our offices remain closed to the public and our services continue to operate with some changes:
- stopped making appointments for non-critical repairs inside properties (see below for examples) – appointments that have already been made will be honoured
- deferred some planned maintenance works: non-urgent boiler replacements and kitchen & bathroom installations
- put on hold plans to reopen communal areas in independent living schemes.
Non-critical repairs inside properties include:
- Minor joinery repairs such as kitchen units, worktops, window-frames/catches, floorboards, floor tiles, skirting boards, banister rails and
- Dripping or leaking taps and showers
- Intermittent faults
- Individual socket and switch faults
- Plastering and tiling
- Non-critical glazing.
These measures are additional to the steps that we have already in place to promote your safety and the safety of our employees. We continue to review our risk assessments, provide PPE to employees in customer-facing roles and operate socially distanced working practices, eg. digital sign ups for lettings.
For more information, please see the Group’s Coronavirus Position Statement here.
All our employees have been asked to stay at home unless they:
- are site‐based and work in supported or extra care schemes;
- undertake fire safety, electrical checks or gas servicing in general needs properties;
- undertake void works or carry out emergency repairs;
- are unable to work effectively from home and safe-working in an office can be facilitated.
As we adjust our services in line with Government advice to help reduce the spread of the virus, we may not achieve our usual service standards. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
We stopped making appointments for non-critical repairs. Our call centre employees are equipped to work from home and receive calls from residents making inbound calls.
When requesting a repair please advise us if you or anybody in household is shielding / vulnerable etc. In households where someone is isolating due to having COVID – 19 symptoms or has been advised to shield we will only carry out repairs to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. In these cases our operative will wear PPE including face mask and gloves.
What to expect when we attend a repair or maintenance appointment:
- Upon arrival our operative will display their official identification but a distance of at least 2 metres.
- They will ask you to confirm that everyone in the house is currently feeling well
- Please ensure that you and other members of your household maintain a minimum distance of 2 metres from the operative at all times. If this can’t be achieved the repair may not be able to be completed.
- Please ensure that children and pets are removed from the area of repair.
- Please open doors and windows in the area of repair if possible.
- Please do not offer our operative tea, coffee or other refreshments.
- Please do not hand or pass anything to the operative.
- You may notice that our operative washes their hands more than you might normally expect. Don’t be alarmed, this is in line with current Government guidelines.
- You may notice that our operative washes or wipes down an object or surface before handling, again don’t be alarmed, this is in line with current Government guidelines.
- If our operative needs to discuss aspects of the repair with you they may ask to speak to you outside of the property.
- If your repair requires more than one visit we will send the same operative where this is achievable.
- For most routine tasks (where none of the household has symptoms of COVID – 19 or is shielding) our operatives are not required to wear face masks, again this is in line with current Government workplace guidelines.
Help us to Help you
While we have taken the necessary measures for our operatives to work safely in your home there are steps you can take to keep our operatives safe. Please:
- Confirm that you and members of your household are feeling well when booking an appointment.
- Allow our operatives access to your home to complete the repair or gas safety check.
- Clear any personal items in or around the area our operative will be working on.
- Maintain a 2m distance from our operatives at all times keeping children and pets away.
- Open windows if possible to allow fresh air to circulate.
- Wear a face covering whilst our technicians are working in your home.
Gas and electrical safety checks
Following the Government’s advice our gas and electrical safety checks are continuing and we will contact you to make an appointment if your home is due a visit. We understand that many of our residents may be anxious of allowing our engineers to enter their homes during the pandemic, however, we can assure you that these essential checks are to ensure the continued safety of you and your family. Our operatives will only be required to enter rooms where your appliances are present and will ensure social distance is maintained at all times.
Rent payment and money advice
If you have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and are struggling to pay your rent, we’re here to help. Please call our Connect contact service, who can arrange for you to speak to our expert money advice team. If you are one of our customers who pays their own rent, you can also expect to receive a call from a member of our team to discuss rent payment. This includes setting up new payment methods for cash payers who are self‐isolating, accepting lower payments when a tenant is unsure of their future income, issuing foodbank vouchers, signposting to debt advice, completing grant applications and making further referrals for food provision to local private and volunteer agencies. If you haven’t already, we would encourage you to register for our online services.
Following the Government’s advice on social distancing, we have made some changes to the way we carry out grounds maintenance during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) situation. As always, our main priority is the health and wellbeing of our customers and staff.
We have made some temporary changes to the way we carry out grounds maintenance. In the short term this means that we will focus on grass cutting and when it is possible our staff will spend more time on site to ensure the grounds are brought back up to the usual high
Coronavirus community support
We have pulled together a list of community support services which you may find helpful if you are in need during the Coronavirus outbreak. They include foodbanks and delivery services, mental health support, general advice and local Facebook groups you can join. Please visit our Group member websites for more information.
Our tenancy safety team can be contacted, via Connect, to discuss any problems with nuisance or noise that you may be experiencing.
Independent Living and Supported Housing Schemes
We carried out a business‐wide review of all our independent living and supported schemes to increase cleaning regimes in line with government guidance. We have provided advice to residents on how to protect themselves through proper hygiene. We have liaised with the care teams who work in our buildings and commissioned by local authorities to ensure continued care provision to our residents. We have closed communal lounges, taped off communal areas that cannot be secured and closed lavatories that are normally accessible to all residents and visitors. We have also asked residents to observe social distancing guidelines and not to invite external visitors into their schemes, although this is not something we can enforce as we have no legal powers to do so and our schemes are not staffed 24/7.
Many of our supported housing schemes have on‐site staff providing a 24 hour service. We are continuing to run these services, albeit on some occasions with reduced staffing levels. We will utilise teams from across all services to maintain as many supported housing services as possible, both 24 hour and visiting support. We are starting to mobilise some of our outreach services such as Housing First to support complex clients, following government guidance on social distancing.
Where it is possible to do so safely, our operatives will be working on refurbishing our current empty homes to enable them to be ready for when new tenants are able to move in.
We continued to let newly built properties handed over by developers from the beginning of the pandemic and worked with local authority homelessness services to let properties to those in greatest need.
In May we commenced letting all properties in the general needs category with a new digital letting process that maintains social distancing between employees and incoming tenants. We will work with you in the best way possible, while adhering to the latest measures in place on safe distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.
All our events across the neighbourhoods where we work, are cancelled with immediate effect. Please check our website for future updates on Neighbourhood activity. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Offices and Customer Hubs
While we have taken the necessary measures to make our offices Covid secure, our offices and customer hubs remain closed to the public.
While the restrictions have required us to scale back some services, we have been re-directing our efforts to other areas, where we could make a difference. We have been contacting by phone over 7,400 tenants, who may be more vulnerable to a serious illness if contracting coronavirus. Those calls have also enabled us to put some people in touch with local services that can provide much needed assistance. We have also funded foodbanks with £80k.
Please regularly check our website as we will be publishing further guidance taking account of advice from central Government and Public Health England.
Thank you for working with us during these challenging times. Stay alert and follow the official government advice for the public here.
You must stay at home. This is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives.
You must not leave your home unless necessary.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or bubble.