I am sure that you are keen to understand what the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday means for our services including repairs, lettings, planned works and other services.
We’re working this through and will keep you updated. There will not be any immediate changes as we need to assess the detailed guidance that is just coming out.
Please bear with us while we work out what this means for each aspect of our service as our priority is to keep you and our employees safe.
Safety in your home
We understand that at times like this, knowing that you have a safe and secure home is more important than ever, and your safety is our top priority.
Our customer service centre is fully operational, with all staff working remotely. Our repairs teams are working and available to complete all emergency and essential safety repairs in and around your home. We will ask you to move into another room whilst we carry out the work and we will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for your safety and for the safety of our teams.
We also need to complete regular checks to keep you safe. These include gas and electric checks inside your home and other inspections externally including lifts, water and fire safety.
With more people at home for longer periods, fire safety is more important than ever. Please be aware of the increased risk and, in particular, we would remind customers who live in apartments, that it is not safe to barbeque (BBQ) on balconies at any time.
Supporting you and your community
Previously I advised you that no LiveWest customer will lose their home if they cannot pay their rent because their financial circumstances have changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
We have made three commitments which I want to share with you:
- keeping people secure at home. No one will be evicted from a LiveWest home as a result of financial hardship caused by the coronavirus.
- helping people to get the support they need. We will help you to access benefits and other support to reduce financial hardship.
- acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling. We will work with you to understand how we can help. We will be flexible on collecting rent where that would make a difference. If you are worried about paying your rent, you should contact us because we want to help.
Over the last three weeks we have telephoned over 8,000 of our customers to find out how they are managing and to see if we can help. We have prioritised our older customers, those who are known to be disabled or vulnerable, as well as those who are living alone.
Working alongside local councils and foodbanks, we have helped with access to food shopping, medicines, and prepaid electricity and gas cards.
We have also supported customers, who have unfortunately lost their employment, to claim and access benefits.
If you ever feel you need to speak to us, there is no need to wait for a call, please feel free to telephone our customer service centre team who are only too happy to help and will connect you to one of our specialist staff.
Working alongside local foodbanks, we understand the increased demands they are under at this time. To support the work they do, at the end of March, we made charitable donations to 26 foodbanks across our region.
Over the coming months we will also provide financial support through grants to more foodbanks and to community initiatives established specifically to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).
This month we are also launching our new COVID-19 crisis and hardship fund. These new grants are available to help our customers experiencing difficulties as a result of coronavirus.
In particular, we are keen to support:
- families with children facing increased costs (prioritising those getting free school meals)
- those directly impacted by a change in financial circumstances due to coronavirus
- those who are over 70
- those with a medical vulnerability.
You can find out more about our hardship grants here or by calling our customer service centre.
If you live in Somerset and West of England
Call: 01934 526 000
If you live in Devon and Cornwall
Call: 0300 123 8080
We appreciate that being at home and living near others can at times be challenging. Understandably, we are receiving a significant number of calls from customers advising us that their neighbours are not complying with the government's stay at home guidelines.
We are asking everyone to respect their neighbours. Being a good neighbour means being reasonable and considering how our behaviour affects others. It also means recognising that we all live different lives and have different lifestyles. Now more than ever we need to be considerate and tolerant of each other. We cannot directly enforce the social distancing guidelines, as it is the Police that have the powers to order people to go home, leave an area and issue fines. By following the social distancing guidelines, you are helping us to spend more time supporting those customers who need our help.
At this difficult time, understandably our priority is to support customers to access food and medicines, who are worried about rent payments and need help to claim benefits, who have significant concerns about their safety and wellbeing, and who need the support offered through our crisis grants schemes.
Finally, if you need to contact us please feel free to do so at any time.
Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives.
LiveWest Chief Executive