Coronavirus (COVID-19) - service update and advice
We want to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to keep our essential services running as smoothly as possible. We’re following the Public Health England and NHS advice which you can find on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. We’ve also made plans and carried out tests to see how we’ll continue to deliver our services throughout the coronavirus outbreak. We are keeping these under review on a daily basis.
As the outbreak of coronavirus has escalated in the UK, we've had to put some measures in place to help minimise the risk of further spread and keep you and our staff safe. We continue to follow Government instructions, guidance and advice. As a result, we’ve closed our offices for anyone to visit and we are limiting non-essential face-to-face meetings. We’ve also stopped non-emergency repairs until further notice and will focus our resources on delivering emergency repairs. Please read the service update below for the latest information regarding our service delivery.
Closing our playgrounds - The Prime Minister announced on Monday 23 March that playgrounds should close as part of increased measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. So, we are taking steps to close playgrounds on our estates until the situation improves. It’s difficult to maintain social distancing in playgrounds so we’re doing this to help protect everyone’s health. Parks will remain open at this stage.
Repairs service – At 8.30pm on Monday 23 March 2020, the Government announced that people are required to stay home, except for very limited purposes. We’re following the Government instructions and as a result we will stop non-emergency repairs until further notice. If you had a non-emergency repair scheduled, this will no longer take place and we’ll be in contact with you once our repairs service is back to normal. Please note, this means, we’re also not booking any new appointments for non-emergency repairs at this time as we need to priorities emergency repairs only.
Reception closure - to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, our reception will be closed until further notice. We will let you know when they are open again. You can still contact us by phone on 0300 373 3000, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, social media or using our website contact us form.
What to expect from our repairs service during this time?
Your health and safety are extremely important to us. We understand that you’ll still have repairs to your home and communal areas during this time and we’re doing what we can to provide you with a repairs services.
As we continue to monitor and follow Government guidance, we have had to make some changes to our service. If you had a non-emergency repair scheduled, we will not be able to complete the repair at this time. This is so we can prioritise emergency repairs. We will reschedule your repair for another date.
We've also stopped all planned and non-essential maintenance work during this time.
If you need to contact us about a new repair, please consider if it is an emergency repair. If it is not an emergency repair, please wait until our repairs service is back to normal to contact us. This will help us to manage and prioritise emergency repairs during this time.
Please contact us to let us know if you’re self-isolating, showing symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) or have been confirmed to have coronavirus. This is to protect you, our staff and contractors. We will put measures in place to complete your emergency repair. If we’re not able to do this, we’ll speak with you about how we can safely gain access to your home to complete the repair.
Emergency repairs are situations where there is a risk to someone’s health or safety, a home is not secure, or there is damage that will compromise the structure of your home. Emergency repairs, during this time, include:
- No heating – no hot water
- No electricity or water due to internal faults
- Serious water leaks that cannot be contained or those effecting electrics or could cause a ceiling to collapse
- Ceiling collapse due to other reasons
- Blocked or non-flushing toilet when only one in the property
- Blocked drains
- Any leaks involving sewerage
- Smashed glazing
- Insecure damaged front door
Managing rent payments
As you may be aware the Government announced on 18 March 2020 that due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic they will be introducing emergency legislation so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.
At Network Homes evictions are only ever used as an absolute last resort but it is important to recognise that if you do not pay your rent (or service charges) you are putting your home at risk. This position is unchanged by the Government announcement but we will continue to support people in financial difficulty proactively and compassionately, in line with our normal processes. If benefits currently cover your rent in full they should continue to do so.
Your rent (and service charges) will continue to be due on an ongoing basis and any payments will have to be made up to ensure that your account is not in arrears. For example if you did not pay your rent for three months and then made up these arrears over the following twelve-months it would mean your regular payments would be 25 per cent higher.
We understand that your household income may be affected during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have to self-isolate and are not able to go to work. We’ve provided some information below on what you can do depending on your circumstance and we’ll continue to follow the advice and guidance from the Government about it. Please contact our Income Team on 0300 373 3000 or at email@example.com if your income has been affected and you have concerns about paying your rent. Network Homes has a team of Welfare Benefit experts who may be able to help you maximise your income during these difficult times.
If you receive Universal Credit (UC) and you have a jobcentre appointment but are staying at home on Government advice, or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you will not be sanctioned if you tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in good time. You must inform the DWP by updating your online journal or calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
All UC paayments have been increased by £20.00 per week which is £86.66 per calendar month. You can find out more information including any updates or changes in guidance on the Universal Credit website: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Depending on your employment contract and type of work, your income may be affected if you need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. The Government has announced they have made changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to ensure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread.
- people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness.
- Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected.
- if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – you can access it here: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/.
SSP is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week. For more information including details about applying for Contribution Based Employment and Support Allowance (CBESA) visit the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses
The Government has made changes to how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants. Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. For more information see the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses
It was announced last week (week commencing 23 March) that if you're self employed you will get a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the tax years (where applicable):
- 2016 to 2017
- 2017 to 2018
- 2018 to 2019
To work out the average HMRC will add together the total trading profit for the three tax years (where applicable) then divide by three (where applicable), and use this to calculate a monthly amount. It will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months. They will pay the grant directly into your bank account, in one instalment.
If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. If you have not completed your tax return for this year you have an additional four weeks to do so.
For more information, visit the 'Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme' page on the Gov.uk website.
It was announced in the 2020 budget that the minimum income floor (for those that are SE there is an assumed minimum income) will be temporarily relaxed. This is to ensure you receive some support which will include both the personal and housing element of Universal Credit.
If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Anyone who's job has been put on hold and they've temporarily been made unemployed, will be designated as ‘furloughed workers’. Your employer will need to contact HMRC and they'll be able to claim back up to 80% of your salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (please note HMRC are working to set these systems up). As and when further information becomes available we will update.
Now that social distancing has been implemented?
Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. Depending on industry/sector, now the Government is enforcing social distancing measures, you may be affected if you are self-employed or on a zero-hour contracts. As part of the 2020 budget, the Government announced a £500m hardship fund however it is still not clear how it can be accessed. We’ll continue to monitor information from the Government about it to keep you updated
What you can do to help?
In the interest of everyone’s safety, please tell us if you’re currently self-isolating or have been confirmed as having coronavirus so we can better support you with your query and be best prepared if we need to visit your property to carry out repairs. You can contact us by phone between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday by calling 0300 373 3000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Government also identified a small number of people with specific medical conditions who they are advising to shield themselves from wider contact for 12 weeks. People in this category should have received a letter from the NHS by Sunday 29 March. You can read more information about it on the Gov.uk website here. If you fall into this group please let us know now so we can log this on our system and maintain your shielding from the virus.
Last updated: 31 March 2020 at 3pm