Coronavirus: advice for customers

Following the latest Government announcement of the new measures that have been introduced around self-isolation, stopping non-essential travel and working from home where possible, Longhurst Group is making some changes to the way we deliver services to our customers.

Coronavirus: advice for customers

  This page was updated: 11/11/2020

We hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

As we continue to respond to the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and we experience another period of stricter government restrictions, we wanted to update you about how we’ll maintain the services we deliver while observing social distancing guidelines, and also let you know about some of the extra support we provide.

More information about what this means for you is detailed on this page.


Our offices

With the vast majority of our colleagues continuing to work from home, all of our offices remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Please continue to contact us on the phone or via our website


Services provided by our contractors

The latest government guidance makes it clear that tradespeople, including our contractors, can continue to enter people’s homes.

We remain committed to completing any ongoing or planned work where it’s needed, to keep customers safe and secure.

Please be assured that all of our contractors are following the government’s health and safety guidance and have the necessary risk assessments in place.

If accessing your property, our contractors should be taking the appropriate action to keep you safe and reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Before agreeing to schedule an appointment, our contractors will check whether you or anybody living in your home has coronavirus or is displaying any of its associated symptoms.

Our contractors and PPE

When contractors access your property, they’ll be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

If our contractors are not wearing this clothing, do not allow them access to your property and please call us straight away to make us aware.


Your repairs service from Wates Living Space

As we continue to cope with a backlog of work that was delayed at beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we’d ask that you continue to bear with us as we do everything we can to deliver the best possible service.

We have the following three repair priorities in place:

  • Emergency repair timescale: 24 hours
  • Non-emergency repairs: 21 days
  • Planned repairs: 35 days.

Non-emergency repairs

Our contractors are doing everything they can do to complete non-emergency repairs within these timeframes, but unfortunately this isn’t always possible due to a backlog of work, extra safety procedures and the challenges of people self-isolating due to the pandemic.

If we’re unable to complete your non-emergency repair within this timeframe, we’d ask that you remain patient as we continue to cope with the challenges of this unprecedented year.

We’ll always prioritise work that has health and safety implications, but some lower priority work may not be completed as quickly as we would like.  

Planned repair priorities

Earlier this year, we introduced a third repair priority of 35 days.

This covers more complex non-emergency repairs that may require additional work, or work that needs to be carried out by multiple contractors. 

Examples of this may include follow-on work relating to roofing, plastering, fencing and ground works. If the work you require falls into this category, we’ll let you know.

If you have a repair, please call 0300 123 1745 to report it to Wates and you’ll be given an appointment.

To help you to get through as quickly as possible, we’d recommend calling outside of the busiest times, which are 8.30am to 5pm on Monday, and 8.30am to 11am and during lunchtime (12pm to 1pm) on weekdays.


Your heating servicing and heating repairs service from Mears Limited

Please continue to report your heating repairs as normal.

If you have a repair, please call 0300 123 1745 to report it to Mears and you’ll be given an appointment.

To help you to get through as quickly as possible, we’d recommend calling outside of the busiest times, which are 8.30am to 5pm on Monday, and 8.30am to 11am and during lunchtime (12pm to 1pm) on weekdays.

Annual heating services

Annual heating services will also continue and it’s really important that our contractor can complete your annual heating service, particularly as people are spending more time at home.

If your annual service is approaching and you or a member of your household is self-isolating, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can rearrange for the service to take place after your isolation has ended.

Please be assured that our contractors are fully up-to-date with the latest guidance on how to work safely.

Gas safety and emergencies

If you smell gas, or have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider immediately on 0800 111 999 and switch off appliances until a contractor – or a registered gas engineer – has attended and confirmed that the appliances are safe to use.


Communal areas

Where you live, if there are areas where you come into close contact with other residents, including communal areas inside and outside, please follow the government’s social distancing guidelines and remain at least two metres apart. Please also avoid congregating in groups, also in line with the government guidance.

We have already taken the decision to close communal areas at some of our schemes, including laundries and communal lounges, where we feel social distancing cannot be achieved.

Cleaning

Cleaning is still being carried out in key communal areas at our properties. Cleaners are using stronger products as part of an upgraded cleaning service in these areas.  


Lettings to continue

We’re pleased to let you know that our lettings process will continue, and our Housing colleagues will remain present within our communities to ensure that the areas we’re responsible are safe and clean.

When colleagues need to visit customers’ homes, we’ll ensure that we continue to follow Government guidance around social distancing and we’d ask that customers also do the same.

If we need to visit you at home, we’ll get in touch in advance to ensure that you and anyone living with you are symptom-free. If you or anyone else develops symptoms after the appointment has been agreed, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can reschedule.


Coping financially

We understand that the ongoing situation is extremely worrying. As well as concerns about your health and safety and the wellbeing of your family and friends, it’s understandable that you might also be wondering how you will cope financially.

Many of you will be experiencing increased uncertainty around your income and what the future might hold.

As a responsible landlord, we want to provide you with as much reassurance and support as we possibly can, but it’s really important that you continue to pay your rent.

If you are having any difficulties with paying your rent, related to coronavirus or otherwise, then we are here to help.

Our dedicated team of income and money advice experts are on hand to listen to your concerns and provide clear and compassionate guidance.

Test and Trace support payment scheme

They will assess all of your options and ensure that you’re accessing any support you are entitled to, including extra support you may be able to access during the coronavirus pandemic, such as the recently introduced Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Under this new scheme, if you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500 from your local authority. You can find out more by visiting: gov.uk/coronavirus/worker-support

Free money advice and support is available

Please do not suffer in silence. There are options available to you, and we are here to help.

If you are worrying about your finances, pick up the phone and speak to us today – call 0300 123 1745 and press 2 to speak to the Income Team.

Hardship Fund

If you’re really struggling financially, you may be able to access support from our Improving Lives Hardship Fund.

To access funding, you will need meet certain eligibility criteria.

To find out more about the Hardship Fund, please speak to your Housing Officer, Income Officer or Scheme or Project Manager or visit our Wellbeing Hub.


Looking after your wellbeing

To help our customers improve their health and wellbeing and enhance their economic resilience, we’ve launched our new online Customer Wellbeing hub.

You can find out more about the advice and support on offer, which covers issues such as domestic abuse and mental health, as well as information about financial support and benefit entitlement, by visiting longhurst-group.org.uk/wellbeing


All of these measures are subject to further and ongoing review and if and when government advice changes.

 Remain vigilant

During these uncertain times, some people will try to prey on people’s concerns and vulnerabilities. We’ve already had reports of people contacting customers about hoax insulation work.

 Please be extra vigilant when answering your door to anybody, taking any calls and reading emails, to ensure they are genuine.

Our contractors should always be wearing identification. If they do not have identification or are not wearing PPE, do not let them into your property.

Any concerns you may have

Although the way in which we deliver services is changing, we are still here to support you and would encourage you to get in touch on the phone and online to access all of our services. 

We know that many customers will be concerned about job security and potential changes to their income and we would advise you to contact us to talk through these concerns.

Here to help

As well as our Money Advice Service, we are currently looking at what more can do to help people who may be struggling financially over the coming weeks and months.

If you are looking to find work, want to brush up on your skills or learn new ones, we can help you - we also offer employment and skills support.


  Spotting the signs of Coronavirus

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus please visit the NHS webpage

We would urge customers to continue to follow the Government’s advice to avoid catching and spreading germs.

 Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.

 Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

 Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

 Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to a flu:

 Cough

 High temperature

 Shortness of breath

If you have these symptoms, or you have recently returned from travelling to an affected area, you should call the NHS helpline on 111.

Please do not visit your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.


    
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