Coronavirus Update: Council Housing
Posted on 20 March 2020
Last updated 6 July 2020 at 9.20am
In response to the latest Government advice in relation to COVID-19, South Holland District Council is taking the decision to make significant changes to our services to protect the health of our tenants and staff.
We know the coronavirus is having an impact on people's health and that it's affecting people's finances too. We're here to help you if you need us.
You still need to pay your rent. We ask that you please continue to do this as normal for as long as you can. Your rent helps us fund essential frontline services.
If you need our help, please don't hesitate to ask, as we can provide advice, support and guidance. This can include putting special payment plans in place to help if you need it or supporting you to claim benefits you're entitled to. You can contact the Housing Services Team on 01775 761161 or email@example.com.
We know this is a worrying time but your safety is our top priority. In this lockdown situation, we're all spending more time at home so it's essential that your gas appliances are working safely and you're not at risk.
Your gas service is important - it is vital to that we continue these checks to keep you, your family, your neighbours and community safe. There is a legal requirement for us to complete essential safety checks at your home such as gas servicing - this has not changed due to Coronavirus.
If you have a gas check scheduled, in addition to your appointment letter we will be in contact with you prior to an engineer arriving to check that it's safe for us to come out and you're happy for us to proceed.
If your gas safety check is due, we will continue to contact you and arrange these checks.
- Your safety is a priority and we will complete the appointment as quickly as possible.
- Our gas engineers will follow full Safe Systems of Work protocols and will wear hygiene protection - they will follow all Public Health England guidelines.
- You do not need to be in the room while they complete the inspection, so apart from allowing access you will not need to come in contact with the operative.
- We will only go into the rooms we need to carry out the work and will minimise any disturbance, leaving your home clean and tidy, including sanitising any surfaces touched.
- We request that you remain 7ft/2metres away from the work area to minimise contact. Please ensure children are distanced and pets are appropriately supervised. We recommend you stay in a different room if possible.
If you refuse access
- We will make a note, and rearrange your safety check based on your specific isolation criteria.
- You will continue to receive phone calls and letters about your gas safety check, because we must follow important gas safety procedures
- After repeat attempts to gain access, we will cap your gas at the meter and if necessary seek an injunction through the courts to get access.
We are pleased to confirm that we are now able to deliver a fuller service to tenants for repairs and programmed (upgrade) works.
Revised repair timescales
As a result of service interruption, we have extended our timeframe for repairs. Please visit our request a repair web page for the latest information.
Programmed works - kitchen, bathroom and heating upgrades
We are committed to completing any ongoing or planned work. If your property is scheduled for an upgrade, we will contact you. If you are not comfortable with us undertaking the proposed work due to COVID-19, we will be happy to discuss this with you further.
Our staff and contractors are checking in daily to confirm they feel fit to work. We will not send anyone to your home that is unwell. Staff and contractors have access to cleaning materials in their vans and will clean their hands before entering your home. Whilst in your property, staff and contractors will take appropriate precautions to maintain safe working practices. We request that you remain 7ft/2metres away from the work area to minimise contact. Please ensure children are distanced and pets are appropriately supervised. We recommend staying in a different room if possible.
Sheltered Housing Community Centres
Community centres are currently closed. Guidance on safely opening community facilities was published by the government on 30 June 2020. We are currently reviewing this guidance and considering how we make the centres COVID-19 secure. The safety of our residents is our priority.
- When will we open the community centres?
Subject to no further lockdown restrictions and no further restrictions on use, we aim to open the centres later on this summer.
- Can I have a refund on my service charge, as I haven't been able to access the community centre?
We are not able to refund or stop charging this fee. This charge supports the maintenance of this facility including surrounding communal gardens. We have continued to maintain these buildings during lockdown. It will allow us to fund the additional measures required to make the centre safe to open. This charge has not increased since 2015.
- I miss the support network that the community centre provided. How can I see my friends and neighbours now?
From 4 July, you can:
> meet in a group of 2 households, in any location, indoors or outdoors. This does not need to be the same household each time, following social distancing guidelines.
> spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines.
Please note the above rules apply to community centres also. Opening the community centre would not mean that you could interact with larger groups of people - the rules remain the same. Guidance on meeting people from outside your household is available on GOV.UK.
- My mental health and wellbeing is affected by COVID-19, what support is available?
We have closed all community centres for the foreseeable future as the users of these facilities have been highlighted as a high risk group for Coronavirus.We have not taken this decision lightly and understand this is the only place many tenants use to socialise, however the health and safety of our tenants and the wider community are a number one priority.
Home visits by Officers
We will only be conducting essential home visits for the foreseeable future. This includes Meet and Greet sessions with Sheltered Housing tenants. You can still contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01775 761161.
Answers to some questions you may have
- How do I pay my rent if I can't get to the shop?
You can pay your rent online at www.sholland.gov.uk/paying-your-rent or telephone 01775 761161 and pay over the phone. You can also call our automated telephone service on 0345 340 9310. If you normally pay your rent or council tax using a PayPoint in a shop, or in the Post Office, there are other ways you can pay. Please call us on the above number and we will talk you through your options.
- I am worried about my financial situation, who can help with rent and benefit payments?
Some people may be concerned about their financial situation over the coming days and weeks. If you are in this situation, we will do all we can to help you and your family. This can include putting payment plans in place or supporting you to claim benefits you are entitled to. The government has extended the statutory sick pay (SSP) to people affected by COVID-19. If you're not eligible for SSP, we urge you to claim Universal Credit as soon as possible.
If you need support or advice about claiming benefits, or you think you will have difficulty making rent or council tax payments as a result of self-isolating, please call us on 01775 761161. Further information is also available at www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses
- I'm worried about letting repairs contractors into my home, what steps are you taking to protect my health?
Our staff and contractors are checking in daily to confirm they feel fit to work. We won't send anyone to your home that is unwell. Staff and contractors have access to anti-bacterial gel and wipes in their vans and will clean their hands before entering your home. Whilst in your property, staff and contractors will use protective clothing such as face masks and gloves. We request that you remain 7ft/2metres away from the work area to minimise contact.
Further information is also available on our Tenants Portal on www.sholland.gov.uk/myhome