Customer advice

What repairs are you doing?

What repairs are you doing?

We’re now able to allocate new bookings for a limited number of internal and external repairs, as well as working through the existing appointments that we couldn’t complete due to Covid-19. We will continue to keep our colleagues and customers safe so we only have limited availability, and these will be only available if you book on our website through your online account. You can create one here https://www.aspirehousing.co.uk/create-an-account

Over the next few weeks we will continue to add more availability, so please check the website regularly to find a convenient appointment.

What happens if I can’t see any appointments?

We’re slowly releasing more appointments; we are only able to show appointments for the next 28 days so please keep checking regularly as the website will update daily releasing more capacity for suitable appointments.

How do I book an appointment?

For now, we are only able to offer appointments using our online portal on our website. It’s quick and easy to use. Log in or create an account to book (link). If you need any help setting up and account (link to page) or you can contact our Customer Excellence Team on our website using Live Chat. Our Customer Excellence Team will support any customers that may need a hand to get them up and running and running with an online account, including those customers who do not have access to the internet but may have a representative that can do this on their behalf.    .

What safety measures are you putting in place to keep colleagues and customers safe?

Our colleagues have been briefed and given guidance and training on how to work safely. We’ve put in place new risk assessments, screening questionnaire and standard operating procedures as a result of Covid-19, which includes asking you the correct questions before we visit your home, wearing the correct PPE and utilising signages and washing facilities before and after each repair.

Our Team Leaders and Senior Managers are also carrying out work in progress audits to ensure colleagues are adhering to the guidance provided, colleagues are updating our information where necessary so that other colleagues are aware of changing circumstances with customers.

Will you complete the repair if I am showing symptoms of Covid-19?

No, If the repair is not urgent we will not complete the repair and we will ask you to make contact once you have completed your self-isolation or shielding period after which we will return to your property to carry out the repair.

What happens if I don’t want an Aspire Housing colleague to come into my home?

That’s no problem, we understand the challenging situation we’re in. If you’d rather we carried out your repair at another time, we will cancel your job and ask you to re-book when new appointment bookings are available again. However, if there are health and safety issues relating to your repair we will insist we carry out the repair for your safety.

How are you ensuring the safety of colleagues and customers?

We regularly brief our colleagues on changes to the government’s social distancing rules and they will always carry out a risk assessment prior to commencing any works. Please be assured our colleagues will work safely to prevent putting you and themselves at risk.

Our new procedure means colleagues will: 

Always try apply the 2 meter social distancing rule if they have to talk to you in person at any time

Not ask you for fresh water washing facilities as they have this in their vehicles

Wipe down door handles and push plates if they have had to touch them without gloves

Wipe down hand rails on staircases and corridors if they have had to touch them without gloves

Wipe down lift buttons if they have had to use the lift and touch them without gloves

Put up a social distance awareness sign where applicable so all visitors are aware of their presence

Please remember to keep a safe distance from our team whilst they are working in or around your premises, this is for your and their safety. And please don’t feel like you need to offer our colleagues a cup of tea, they won’t be offended!

What will happen if I don’t want the working completing at this time due to Covid-19?

If you feel that the time isn’t right for you to have these works completed due to Covid-19, then call us back when you are in a position to have the works completed and we’ll arrange a suitable appointment with you.

 

 

What are you doing in my Community Living Scheme?

Who manages my Community Living scheme?

Each scheme has a dedicated Community Living Advisor, you will receive a telephone call each week, you can find your Community Living Advisor details here 

What services do I receive?

The services that our Community Living Advisors provide have had to adapt during lockdown to minimise unnecessary contact. As a team, we have prioritised the wellbeing of our customers during this time through weekly welfare calls and visits to Community Living schemes. We have been arranging a variety of important services, such as dog walking, food delivery, and collecting prescriptions. And we’ve also introduced new services, including our newsletter and activity packs, to make sure people are kept informed and entertained through this challenging time.

We’ve started letting non enclosed bungalow schemes and some enclosed apartment blocks we will also be introducing customer ‘groups’ so we can introduce socially distanced activities outside.

We continue to follow government guidelines to keep you and our colleagues safe.

What measures are you taking to keep customers and colleagues safe?

Our colleagues have been briefed and given guidance and training on how to work safely.

Over the coming weeks, we will be looking to remobilise your community living activities in a phased approach when we feel it is safe to do so and in line with Government advice. You’ll receive further information on this remobilisation from your Community Living Advisor, via the next newsletter, and on our website.

 

What internal repairs are you doing?

I already have an internal repair booked with you, will someone call me to re-book an appointment for my repair?

Yes, one of our scheduling team will call you to rebook an appointment that’s convenient for you.

I need an internal repair but I don’t already have an appointment, can I get an appointment?

Unfortunately we’re not booking new appointments yet. Due to lockdown we have a backlog of booked repairs to complete. As soon as we can accept new bookings we’ll let you know online and on social media.

I had a job cancelled in March, can I re-book this now?

Our scheduling team are working through these appointments. One of our scheduling team will call you to rebook an appointment that’s convenient for you.

What does internal repairs cover?

Internal repairs covers all minor works inside the house. Minor works can usually take up to a couple hours to complete which includes compliance work e.g. gas servicing and electrical inspections. 

Internal repairs does not cover:

  • Repairs which are your responsibility
  • Damp and mould treatment
  • Major Works e.g. replacing full kitchens and bathrooms  etc
  • Re-plastering full rooms or complete property
  • Aids and adaptations
  • Any other large scale works

What safety measures are you putting in place to keep colleagues and customers safe?

Our colleagues have been briefed and given guidance and training on how to work safely. We’ve put in place new risk assessments, screening questionnaire and standard operating procedures as a result of Covid-19, which includes asking you the correct questions before we visit your home, wearing the correct PPE and utilising signages and washing facilities before and after each repair.

Our Team Leaders and Senior Managers are also carrying out work in progress audits to ensure colleagues are adhering to the guidance provided, colleagues are updating our information where necessary so that other colleagues are aware of changing circumstances with customers.

Will you complete the repair if I am showing symptoms of Covid-19?

No, If the repair is not urgent we will not complete the repair and we will ask you to make contact once you have completed your self-isolation or shielding period after which we will return to your property to carry out the repair.

What happens if I don’t want an Aspire Housing colleague to come into my home?
That’s no problem, we understand the challenging situation we’re in. If you’d rather we carried out your repair at another time, we will cancel your job and ask you to re-book when new appointment bookings are available again. However, if there are health and safety issues relating to your repair we will insist we carry out the repair for your safety.

What outside repairs are you doing?

What are we doing? 

We’re resuming routine repairs outside the home for bookings made before Covid-19 outbreak, including;  

  • Guttering / Roofing repairs  

  • Flagging /Re-pointing / Re-bedding   

  • Drainage / Clearing gullies / RWG  

  • All other external works 

  • Fencing repairs and planned works 

  • Painting outside the home 

You cannot currently book a new repair outside the home. As soon as we have completed the existing appointments that we couldn’t complete due to Covid-19, we’ll be opening up for new repair bookings and we’ll update you when this happens. 

If I booked an external repair before Covid-19 and it hasn’t happened what will happen now? 

You will be contacted by a scheduler from our repairs team to book a new appointment to carry out the repair. 

I’ve seen the house next door getting their external repair done, can you do mine? 

At the moment we’re completing all of the bookings that were made prior to the Covid-19 outbreak and unfortunately this will take us some time to get through due to the time we’ve been unable to complete the works, and the new social distancing regulations we must adhere to.  

However please be assured as soon as we can accept bookings for new repairs we’ll update you through our website and social media. 

How are you ensuring the safety of colleagues and customers? 

We regularly brief our colleagues on changes to the government’s social distancing rules and they will always carry out a risk assessment prior to commencing any works. Please be assured our colleagues will work safely to prevent putting you and themselves at risk. 

Our new procedure means colleagues will:  

  • Always apply the 2 meter social distancing rule if they have to talk to you in person at any time 

  • Not enter your property unless it’s an emergency repair and ask you to wait in another room if they need to enter the property 

  • Always wear gloves 

  • Never ask you for fresh water washing facilities as they have this in their vehicles 

  • Wipe down door handles and push plates if they have had to touch them without gloves 

  • Wipe down hand rails on staircases and corridors if they have had to touch them without gloves 

  • Wipe down lift buttons if they have had to use the lift and touch them without gloves 

  • Put up a social distance awareness sign so all visitors are aware of their presence 

  • Never travel together in vehicles. 

Please remember to keep a safe distance from our team whilst they are working in or around your premises, this is for your and their safety. And please don’t feel like you need to offer our colleagues a cup of tea, they won’t be offended! 

What will happen if I don’t want the working completing at this time due to Covid-19? 

If you feel that the time isn’t right for you to have these works completed due to Covid-19, then call us back when you are in a position to have the works completed and we’ll arrange a suitable appointment with you. (or something on those lines) that’s correct 

What happens if an external issue is causing an issue inside the property e.g. loose pointing causing damp on walls inside, or missing tile/issue with roof and a loft needs to be accessed… In these instances would the operative go inside the property? 
 
If the situation outside of the property is causing an issue in the property which is a hazardous to health or health safety in which case it would be deemed an Emergency then we would have to go into the property and follow the organisations guidance with regards social distancing, PPE etc like we have been doing over the last 8-10 weeks, otherwise we wouldn’t. 

Are your Grounds Maintenance teams working?

Where and when will you be cutting grass?

We’ll be cutting grass throughout Newcastle-under-Lyme.

We’re starting in and around the Chesterton, Bradwell, Wolstanton, Maybank and Twon Centre this week (week commencing 18th May). At this time, we’ll review the process to ensure that we can carry out the work safely while maintaining social distancing. If all goes well, we will then extend the work to further areas.

The full roll-out of this service will take place over the next six weeks.

Will you be social distancing / wearing PPE?

The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority.

Our teams will be meeting social distancing measures wherever possible. In any situation where social distancing isn’t possible – for example, while lifting heavy equipment – our colleagues will be wearing masks and suitable PPE.

We advise all customers to keep to social distancing rules, if you need to apporach a colleague.

Why do you leave grass cuttings?

We don’t usually collect grass cuttings as it is better for the health of the lawn, and it reduces the cost of the service for you.

Lawn health - leaving the cuttings returns much-needed moisture and nutrients to the soil, which is better for the health of the lawn and ultimately better for the environment.

Cost – collecting the grass cuttings would significantly increase the cost of this service, as it would involve additional time and colleagues, or expensive specialist equipment.

The grass is too long, you need to cut it.

We know the grass is very long at the moment, and we are sorry we haven’t been able to deliver our grounds maintenance service during the Covid-19 outbreak. We are doing all we can to resume to normal operations and get our grounds up to the high standards you rightfully expect.

We now have a plan in place and we aim to be cutting the grass in your area very soon.

I’ve seen it cut on that street but not this street, why did you miss us out?

We’re taking a phased approach to grass cutting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be carrying out the service across Newcastle-under-Lyme, so don’t worry if it looks like we’ve missed your street – we will be back.

I’m still paying the same service charge but you haven’t been doing the grounds maintenance. Will I get a refund?

We understand you have been paying for a service that we haven’t been able to provide for a number of weeks due to COVID-19. We ask for your patience while we resume the service gradually and safely in line with Government guidance.

Please be assured we will review the service charge position once we’ve re-established this service, but please also understand that the necessity for social distancing and the change in working processes means that we are likely to incur additional costs while we get everything back to its usual condition.

Why are self-isolating and social distancing so important, and what can we do during the time spent at home?

For all of our customers based in Cheshire East, Cheshire East Council have prepared a really useful guide on safety advice around Coronavirus. Take a look here and share with your friends and family.

What can I do if I am feeling isolated?

The coronavirus outbreak has brought challenging times for us all, we're all adapting to a new way of life for the time being. As an Aspire Housing customer you can access Big White Wall, an online community, free of charge. Accessing this online service gives you access to a range of information to support your wellbeing as well as advice and people to talk to. Find out more in this video and register here: bigwhitewall.com/joinnow/aspirehousing

I am self-isolating or shielding, do I need to let you in for an emergency appointment?

We have a duty of care to keep you safe in your home. If you are self-isolating or shielding we may still need to visit you, for example to carry out gas and electricity checks or essential visits to keep you safe. 

We will only visit your home in an emergency situation where we must for your safety, and it's really important in these instances you give us access to complete the emergency works.

How are you keeping me safe when you visit?

We have put in place new procedures with our colleagues when they do visit, to
keep themselves and you safe;

• They’ll keep 2 metres distance
• Wear suitable safety equipment (PPE) where necessary

If you’re self-isolating or have symptoms of COVID-19, we will ask you and anyone else in your home to stay in another room whilst the work takes place.
Please, help us to keep you safe.

Do I need to tell you if I am self-isolating or have been infected with coronavirus?

Yes you do if you are expecting a visit from an Aspire Housing colleague or one of Aspire’s contractors you need to contact us.  

What will you do if I try to make an appointment or I already have an appointment?

We are now only carring out emergency repairs. If you already have an appointment for a non emergency repair we will contact you to cancel. We will ask you if you or anyone in your household is self-isolating at present or have been infected with coronavirus.  If you or someone in your household are self-isolating or have been infected with the coronavirus.

What should I do if my neighbour is infected?

As long as you are not in close contact, the risk should be minimal. NHS advice states that the virus can only survive a short time outside the body. Just make sure you wash your hands regularly and avoid close contact with anyone who is unwell.

What advice do you have for over 70’s and those living in community living schemes?

Government advice at this time is to Stay at Home and to socially distance yourself from others. 

Non-essential visits to your home should not take place, if someone does need to visit then it’s really important that all visitors must wash their hands well following government guidelines. 

Remember to wash thoroughly for 20 seconds when they arrive and depart in the communal wash areas. 

Latest Government advice 

Government has new measures in place that require people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes. 

Every citizen must comply with these new measures, however it’s even more important if you: 

  • Are 70 or over 

  • Have a long-term condition 

  • Have a weakened immune system 

The relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce them including through fines and dispersing gatherings. These measures are effective immediately: 

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons, or work (but only if you cannot work from home) 

  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people 

  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home 

You can find the latest government advice here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

Get more support 

If you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), register and tell the government whether or not you need support. Here’s some details that the government has published about their service. 

You may have received a letter from the NHS telling you that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, or been contacted by your GP or hospital clinician. If this has not happened, contact your GP or clinician after you register with this service. 

Click here to register for this service. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else. 

It may take time for any support offered through this service to arrive. Wherever possible you should continue to ask for support from friends, family and us, to help you meet your needs. 

Stay home stay safe 

What matters most to us at this time is ensuring you feel you are receiving the right information at the right time and that the information is reassuring and helpful. Please raise your questions so we can keep you as up to date as possible. Your continued support during this time is greatly appreciated. If we feel that coronavirus could further impact our services to you, we will ensure you are kept informed of any changes. 

We will call you each week, where possible, to make sure you are safe. Or you can contact us directly on 01782 635200 or go chat with us live online at www.aspirehousing.co.uk

If I am unwell in my house or flat, will you deep clean the property?

This won’t be necessary as the virus can only survive outside the body for a short time. As long as you follow any medical and Government guidance, remain isolated for as long as you are advised and avoid further contact with anyone who has the virus, the risks will be low.

Can I visit your offices?

We advise you to travel and meet our colleagues only if it’s essential, in line with Government advice. We recommend you contact us by phone, email and online via live web chat instead.

Our office at Castle House is temporarily closed. Here's some help with the services we usually host at Castle House:

Universal credit
If you need assistance claiming Universal Credit then Citizens Advice are continuing to provide the Help to Claim service over the phone or online Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm on 0800 144 8444 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Help paying rent/money advice
If you're having difficulty paying your rent or you'd like to talk to our Money Advice Team or Money Smart Families, please contact us on 01782 635200 and we will put you in touch with one of our advisors to help.

End your tenancy
If you'd like to end your tenancy please give us a call on 01782 635200 and we will take this over the phone.

New properties
We've now stopped advertising all of our vacant properties. However you can still visit Newcastle Housing Advice, go online to www.nhaoptions.co.uk.

If you have any other query please contact us either online or give us a call on 01782 635200

Are you planning to cancel any events?

All of our events and gatherings of any size have been cancelled or postponed for the next 12 weeks.

I'm worried how I can pay my rent - can you help?

Now that the rent free weeks are over and rent is being charged again we wanted you to know that we’re doing all we can to support you. We’re here to help when you need it, whether your work circumstances change, or you need help at a time when you’re unwell or having to self-isolate or shield.

If you're experiencing problems paying your rent, then please get in touch, there is a range of help available from our Income and Money Advice Teams. Our colleagues are trained to be able to help you, find solutions and put people first. We have already advised many customers with benefits advice, money advice and support schemes available.

If you usually pay your rent at a Paypoint or Post Office and you are having to stay at home, don’t worry we have many other ways that you can pay, including online or over the phone. If you cant pay by these methods we understand, let us know and we can arrange your payments when it is safe to do so.

If you're still struggling to pay following this advice, we can be flexible with your rent payments over the next few months, similar to Mortgage Holidays, where you can reduce or miss payments and catch up at a later date. Whether this is agreeing for you to miss a few weeks or pay less each week until you are able to pay more, the team can agree with you what will work best. Once you are able to pay again we will come to reasonable, affordable arrangements to repay whatever has been missed. Don’t worry, we wont charge interest on any amounts outstanding and we have committed to not take any enforcement action on rent arrears due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once again, if you have any concerns regarding your finances please get in touch we are here to help and most importantly stay safe.

What financial assistance can I get?

Isolating and unable to work 

You'll get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you're considered unfit for work and you are usually entitled to it - check if you're entitled to SSP

It's worth checking your contract - your employer might pay you more than SSP when you're sick. 

If you're not sick but have been told to self-isolate and can't work from home, you should still get your contractual sick pay on top of SSP. 

Isolating and self-employed 

You can't get SSP if you're self-employed. 

If you have to take time off work and you don't get paid while you're off, you might be entitled to claim benefits. If you're already claiming benefits, you might get more money. 

If you already get benefits like Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, tell the office paying you that you can't work because you're sick. You might be entitled to more money while you're off work. 

If you're not claiming any benefits you might be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit to top up your income. Check if you can claim ESACheck if you can claim Universal Credit

Self-employed and 80% of average profits

Click here for the latest information on the Income Support Scheme and Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

HMRC have released a helpline for businesses and self-employed individuals affected by the Coronavirus and the financial impact of not being able to go to work. The number is 0800 0159 559.
 

Government furlough scheme

If your place of work has shut down or there’s no work for you because of coronavirus, you can carry on getting paid. Click here

Isolating and unable to attend job centre 

If you can't go to your appointment because you're ill or are following guidance to self-isolate, call the office paying your benefit. You'll need to explain why you can't go. 

If you're claiming Universal Credit, you'll need to use your online journal to explain why you can't go to your appointment. 

You can find out more about getting Universal Credit if you're sick

If you call the office paying your benefit or update your online journal, you won't be sanctioned if you don't go to your appointment. 

If you're already getting the benefit, you'll continue to get it if you have to cancel your appointment because of coronavirus. 

Lost job or wages reduced 

In most cases you may be able to claim Universal Credit unless you are already on Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit and have children.

Universal Credit information here 

New Style Jobseekers – if paid enough NI contributions – click here 

Also find out more information if you have recently been furloughed https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-if-your-employer-has-told-you-not-to-work/

 

Need help to pay rent?

If already on Housing Benefit then report change to the council. 

If not on Housing Benefit, in most cases you could claim Universal Credit 

Universal Credit and benefit advance 

Click here for more info 

IMPORTANT – you must confirm the rent with Universal Credit before applying for an advance otherwise the rent element may not be included. 

Universal Credit – help to claim service 

Face to face surgeries have now ended.  You can only get help to claim by telephone and online only. Click here

What help can supermarkets offer?

Many supermarkets offer priority shopping to certain groups and have also brought significant restrictions, limiting shoppers to buying a certain number of the same item, restricting opening times and in some cases stopping accepting online orders altogether. Here is the latest on what supermarkets are doing.

Where my nearest Foodbank?

Find out more information here

No credit on electric and gas meter 

What to do here 

Help with other bills, credit cards, loans etc

Banks are being ordered to take new steps to help customers hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, with those struggling to be offered three-month payment holidays on credit and store cards, loans, secured loans and catalogue debt. It's likely these measures will come in from Thursday 9 April. See here

The DWP are suspending repayments of all overpayments and social fund loans. Deductions from benefits, direct debits and direct earnings deductions will stop automatically.

Latest help with TV licence here

MOT Exemption - From 30 March 2020, car, van and motorcycle owners will have a temporary exemption from MOT testing to ensure vital services can continue, people can carry on with essential travel, and to buy food and medicine – click here

£500 million Hardship Fund available for discretionary support and council tax relief
The Government has announced that a £500 million Hardship Fund will provide council tax relief for vulnerable households for 2020 to 2021 for those entitled to Council Tax Support. Each local council will have their own scheme of how to distribute the funds and you can contact your local council to find out how their scheme will operate. Further information is given in Government guidance.

Severn Trent Water – help with paying the bill here

Need more help? 

Contact our Money Advice Team for any further support – call us on 01782 635200. 

The NHS has issued up-to-date medical advice on its website. For the latest information and guidance, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Are people still working on your building sites?

Work on all our development sites was stopped on 27th March in line with government guidance to stay at home and stay safe. 

On 31st March the government issued new guidance which allows construction companies to continue working on building sites, as long as they follow new procedures.

Some of the contractors working on our sites have opted to return to work, following these new procedures. We’ve agreed they can work on our building sites, only where it is necessary due to the stage the build or demolition is at. 

We’re reviewing the contractor’s procedures before they start to ensure they are working safely, for workers on site, and any residents living nearby. 

We’ll continue to review the situation to ensure the ongoing safety of our colleagues and customers.

Chat Live now!