5 January

Coronavirus update for our customers - 5 January 2021

An update for our customers as we start 2021.
Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Firstly, I would like to start off by wishing you and your family a happy and safe New Year. As we enter 2021 and adapt to the latest government lockdown restrictions announced on 4 January, I wanted to update you on the steps we are taking to manage the ongoing risk of coronavirus and to protect our customers, colleagues and communities. 

We have reviewed how we provide services in response to the current lockdown guidance and will continue to review the government’s guidelines to help us make the right decisions to protect you, our colleagues and those who work with us. For the latest government advice please visit here

Our repairs service 
We are continuing to offer our full repairs service to customers and our teams are working hard to carry out around 2,000 repairs every week. However, we have the same challenges as everybody, with fewer colleagues available as a result of sickness absence and the need to self-isolate. This means that we will be prioritising emergency and urgent repairs and given this, other repair work is likely to take longer than usual. If your repair is not urgent and you can delay your call, this will certainly help us to prioritise those in the most need. You can find a list of the repairs we can complete here.     

Our service offer

Where we need to complete a repair, we will work with you to do this in a safe way. Firstly, we will try to resolve your issue over the telephone. If this is not possible then we will arrange to visit you. Our teams continue to wear the appropriate PPE equipment to protect you and their colleagues.  If you have already booked a repair with us but, given the recent lockdown announcement would like to arrange it for a later time, please contact us. We will be very happy to arrange another appointment for you.  

For help with simple things like resetting your boiler and lots more handy tips why not visit our solve an issue page.

What to do if you or your family is unwell 
If you have an appointment arranged and either you, or a member of your family is unwell or, anyone in your home has been unwell within the last 14 days, then you must let us know, so that we can put in place special arrangements to ensure that the repair can be completed safely and you and our teams are safe.

Are you worried about your rent payments? 
We appreciate that with all the challenges we’re facing, you may be worried about your rent payments. We want to reassure you that if you are unable to make a rent payment because you are now on reduced hours, or you have lost your job as a result of the coronavirus, you will not lose your home.   

Please talk to us if you are struggling so that we can work with you to agree an affordable payment plan which considers your individual circumstances. Please speak to your income officer, if you have any concerns. You can find their details here. 

Moving home and mutual exchanges 
In line with government guidance, you can still move home. If you have been offered a home with us, this move should still go ahead. If you have already applied for a mutual exchange and this has been processed, then this will proceed in the normal way but, there may be a delay. Where possible, we are using technology to help with digital viewings and tenancy signups to avoid any physical contact.  

New applications for mutual exchanges will remain on hold during the latest lockdown period. This decision will be kept under constant review but, if you have any questions or concerns about this then please do speak with your housing officer or our Customer Services team.

Visitors to communal areas in schemes  
If you live in one of our sheltered housing, supported housing or, extra care schemes then your friends and family should not visit unless this is to provide you with help or, personal care or as part of your support bubble. To protect you and to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus, communal areas such as lounges and guest rooms will remain closed until the government advice changes. We appreciate these communal areas have been closed for some time now and know it’s going to be hard through the winter months, but our scheme managers will continue to be in regular contact with you and help arrange any support you need.  

Supporting our vulnerable customers and communities 

We know that the next few weeks will be challenging for many of you, so we want you to know that we are here if you need us.  Since the start of the pandemic our housing team have also been proactively making contact with customers who we believe may be struggling to ensure that they have the support they need. If you are worried at any time or, concerned about a neighbour, please contact us. 

Calls to our Customer Service Centre  
In accordance with the government’s guidelines, our staff will be working from home where possible.  All our online and telephone services will be operating as normal, however running our customer service centre from a home environment does bring with it some challenges and this may mean that at peak times, it can take a little longer to get through on the phone to speak to us.

If you are able to contact us online by email or, online message then this really will be a great help to us. 

You can also find our latest news here on our website, and you can follow us on Facebook.  

Finally, we recognise that until there has been a significant roll out of Covid-19 vaccinations, various lockdown restrictions are likely to remain in place in the months ahead which, may present a number of challenges for you. If you become worried about your own situation or a neighbour during this period, then please contact us and we will do all we can to find someone to help. 

Thank you for your patience.

Best wishes

Paul Crawford 
Chief Executive  

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