The digest from Campbell Tickell – shared with Inside Housing reveals that sector bosses have been discussing:
- Work arrangements: the well-being and mental health of staff who have switched to remote working has been a key concern, with very few, if any, staff still in offices. Many staff are currently being redeployed to new roles as the organisation shifts. Leave arrangements are being reviewed for staff who have childcare needs, with some required to take annual leave and others not.
- Finance: organisations are concerned about a drop off in rent payments and the resultant impact on balance sheets. It is too early to see a specific trend developing in sales. Some are considering skipping planned rent rises, but many will go ahead.
- Repairs: essential repairs, including health and safety, compliance and fire safety work, are continuing but much other work has been halted. A lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) may bring this to a standstill if it is not resolved. Some residents are refusing entry and others are having issues with local contractors laying off staff. There is concern that suppliers have shut down, leaving repairs operatives without materials.
- Welfare: rent holidays are difficult financially unless underwritten by government, and clearer information is required about how to apply for Universal Credit.
- Vulnerable residents: care homes are in lockdown and associations are trying to prepare lists of vulnerable residents and older people in general needs housing to ensure they have sufficient supplies, particularly food. Housing teams are helping in the community, such as delivering prescriptions.
- Governance: operations are taking precedence over governance and the sector is seeking clarity from the regulator about what is required. It is keen for an open dialogue. Board meetings are being held virtually.
There is also an urgent desire for more clarity from the government on whether housing workers will be considered as ‘essential’ staff and allowed to travel during the current lock-down.