Like organisations around the world, we are working hard to look after the safety of our colleagues and our customers while continuing to provide the services you need and expect from us.
As we have entered another national lockdown, we have had to reduce our service to carrying out essential repairs only. If you have a routine repair or visit booked in, this will unfortunately have to be cancelled and rearranged. WE WILL CONTACT YOU to let you know. Please avoid calling us for updates, if you are able to, to prevent our lines from being blocked for more vulnerable tenants who need to speak to us. We realise this might be very frustrating for you, but we must follow the Government's guidelines to keep you and our colleagues safe and to slow the spread of the virus.
Please be aware that we are experiencing high call volumes at the minute. If you do need to speak to us, you may have to wait longer than usual. Thank you for your patience and understanding on this. Don't forget, you can check here or follow us on Twitter - @mearsliving - for service updates.
If you have a visit from your housing officer scheduled, this may take place over the phone instead of face to face; we'll be in touch to let you know.
When we do need to visit homes, we will be following this Government advice:
- When working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable, but has not been asked to shield, for example someone over 70, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable person to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.
- Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
- Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue and throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands.
- Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
- Communicating with households prior to any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties.
- Maintaining social distance as far as possible.
Please remember, if you or any of your household are self-isolating because you have symptoms of Covid-19, we will not visit your home except for in an emergency. Please let us know if we book an appointment and this is the case.
If you live in shared accommodation or homes with communal areas, it is likely that these areas and some facilities remain out of use for some time yet. If this is the case, you will be informed. Please do adhere to any guidance we issue around using these areas to keep you, your family and our colleagues safe from infection.
If you need support or advice - about anything from paying your rent to coping with isolation - please speak to your housing officer, or call us on the main number.
Covid-19 and Rent Payments
We are committed to supporting our customers during this unprecedented national crisis caused by Covid-19. If you have any question or concerns about paying your rent during this time, please contact us.
There will be no reductions to rent or rent free weeks or months throughout this period. The Government has implemented special measures to help those who are adversely affected.
Job Retention Scheme
If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to Covid-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies. This is called the Furlough scheme and it has now been extended until March. If your employer intends to access the Furlough scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.
The Government has also announced a range of measures to support self employed people who cannot work at this time. You can find out more here.
Universal Credit is a benefit paid and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. If your circumstances and income have changed as a result of Covid-19, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. You can make enquiries about how to claim, report changes in circumstance or make any queries about payment / entitlement to the Department for Works and Pensions or Job Centre Plus.
Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory sick pay will be payable to people staying at home on government advice, not just those infected. You may be eligible for help with your rent from Universal Credit or Housing Benefit depending on your circumstances. Find out more here.
You may be able to claim Housing Benefit if you have experienced a change in your circumstances. The local authority local housing allowance rates have been adjusted to provide more help during this period. You must claim Housing Benefit promptly and without delay to ensure you are covered for some or all rent payments throughout this period. Find out more here.
Further support and advice
You can find out more about benefits and what you might be entitled to here.
If you are struggling to make payments or have any other concerns, please speak to your housing officer. You can also get support from Citizens Advice.