This page brings together key sources of information for housing providers responding to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The page is updated regularly as we continue to pick up new information. If you are aware of any useful resources which we have omitted please let us know (click here).
Acuity benchmarking network
Use your benchmarking club email address (eg firstname.lastname@example.org ) to ask your club network for help in solving an issue. Bear in mind that many colleagues are feeling swamped and stressed, so some will not have the capacity to respond. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel pressure to read and respond to everything.
- Details & updates includes briefings, blogs and news covering government and RSH announcements as well as sector response. This is a good place to pick up government guidance as it is issued, eg the consolidated Guidance on Coronavirus and Renting (31/3/20) which covers rent payments, possession, court action, property access, moves and H&S obligations.
- Most relevant official advice on coronavirus from source organisations such as government, CQC, LGA, etc. Including:
- general health & government advice
- supported housing
- business and regulation
- welfare & benefits
- NHF Members LinkedIn Discussion Group – if your organisation is an NHF member, you can sign up to join more than 600 colleagues from across the sector to share information, challenges and solutions. Follow the link on this page under section 1.
Factsheets and good practice guides – including agility in the workplace, engaging tenants, supported housing and repairs and guides associated with the government Coronavirus response, eg evictions, welfare benefits, etc. If a factsheet hasn’t made it onto the above link, it might be on the free downloads page which seems to be more up to date.
CIH schedules regular #CIHcv19 chat hours on Twitter so the sector can get together and talk, ask questions and share best practice. Just search #CIHcv19 on Twitter. The 31 March Twitter chat focused on communication. Here’s a summary. Forthcoming chats:
- Tuesday 7 April 2 – 3pm – Compliance – keep tenants and residents safe
- Tuesday 14 April 2 – 3pm – Collaboration and partnering
Up-to-date government coronavirus advice for housing providers – another one-stop shop for the most up-to-date government advice for housing providers regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Updated every day.
The social housing sector and coronavirus: a briefing (27/3/20) – looks at the main issues facing the sector, and how it is mobilising to respond
- 8 April – further to RSH’s 26 March letter, this update announces additional flexibilities on regulatory requirements:
- a 3-month extension to the usual 30 September deadline for submitting accounts to RSH (and FVA for bigger HAs) if required. See Annual accounts – need an extension from Companies House because of Coronavirus? below also.
- a proportionate approach to VFM reporting in recognition that providers will be reprioritizing their use of resources and may not have the time to provide the level of reporting they otherwise would have. RSH does not expect HAs to spend time reflecting the impact of the current circumstances in their VFM commentary.
- Publication of regulatory judgements during the pause in IDAs
RSH also notes the further advice on gas safety from HSE.
- 7 April – details of a new monthly provider survey to understand how they are coping with the impact of coronavirus on specific operational risks (all of which are about tenant safety). Whilst this only applies to providers with 1,000+ stock and some smaller HAs (presumably with a higher risk profile), you might find the survey questions interesting in terms of understanding what RSH most wants assurance on (other than viability), ie the extent to which HAs are coping with:
- Emergency repairs
- Statutory gas safety checks
- Statutory fire safety checks
- Asbestos, electrical, legionella and lift checks
- Care and support staffing levels.
The Charities Commission
Coronavirus update for landlords recognizes that landlords will be making their own arrangements concerning coronavirus and this may impact complaint handling. Where landlords are making changes, the Ombudsman requests that landlords keep them informed. Also includes details of flexibility with regards to ongoing complaints as well as their working arrangements.
HSE’s gas safety advice for landlords
Unhelpfully undated but this guidance was current at 10/4/20:
DTP Exchange – ‘How will Coronavirus affect the housing sector’ (2/4/20) – a round-up of what DTP client CEOs think and how they are responding. As well as covering day-to-day operational challenges and issues, they look beyond the crisis to draw out what the sector, and country, might look like when we emerge.
Around 200 housing association and ALMO chief executives from across the UK are taking part in this WhatsApp group.
The discussions are confidential but group members agreed that a digest should be issued more widely, in order that others can learn and share their own experiences.
A number of similar WhatsApp groups have been established too, eg Place Shapers. Note that a minority of members of such groups are showing signs of fatigue (with the chatter/distraction).
ICO (information Commissioner’s Office) – GDPR concerns
The ICO’s Data Protection and Coronavirus Information Hub helps individuals and organisations navigate data protection during this unprecedented time. The ICO recognises the challenges you are facing. They understand you might need to share information quickly or adapt the way you work. Data protection should not stop you doing that. The hub has a section entitled ‘I have concerns about using other people’s data’ which includes a handy Data protection and coronavirus: what you need to know Q&A of the main issues and helpline: 0303 123 1113. This IH article also touches on GDPR issues.
Get coronavirus support as a clinically extremely vulnerable person – Gov.UK registration page
Direct residents/staff to this page to register and tell government whether or not a clinically extremely vulnerable resident needs support (eg they may have received a NHS letter telling them they fall into this category). Residents can self-register or others can use it on their behalf.
Annual accounts – need an extension from Companies House because of Coronavirus?
If your accounts will be late because your company is affected by COVID-19 (‘if something has happened that is out of your control’), and your filing deadline has not yet passed, you can apply to Companies House for an automatic and immediate 3 month extension to file your accounts. This should be considered in conjunction with the RSH’s 8 April update which allows for a 3-month extension to the usual deadline for submitting a copy of the accounts to them (see RSH section).
Coronavirus in charts: latest graphics of the spread of the virus
These FT charts provide useful context to the progression of the virus.
Please let us know if we have omitted an important source of information from this list.
It will be updated regularly.