12 April 2021
As the government’s plans for ending Covid-19 restrictions reach the next stage today, we wanted to provide an update on where we are with getting our services back to normal.
Throughout the pandemic, we have provided as many services as possible. The only real difference has been that we paused some non-essential services, our customer partners and homeownership specialists haven’t been out and about and, in our independent living schemes, we closed our communal lounges and guest rooms. To keep following the guidelines, we won’t be changing these arrangements just yet, or returning to our offices.
These are the restrictions easing today, Monday 12 April.
- Non-essential shops can reopen, so too can public buildings such as libraries and community centres.
- Personal care services, such as hairdressers and nail salons can reopen, including those provided from a mobile setting.
- Outdoor hospitality venues can reopen, with table service only.
- Most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) can reopen.
- Some smaller outdoor events such can take place.
- Indoor leisure and sports facilities can reopen for personal exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble.
- All childcare and supervised activities are allowed indoors and outdoors for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors and outdoors for up to 15 people. (Children under 5 are not counted in this number).
- Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events can take place for up to 15 people. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not private gardens.
- Self-contained accommodation can stay open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble.
- Care home residents can have two named individuals for regular indoor visits (after a rapid lateral flow test).
- People should continue to work from home if they can and minimise the amount that they travel where possible.
Although we are not opening communal lounges just yet, the good news is that hairdressers can now visit independent living schemes. They can use our hairdressing salons, or visit residents in their flats, but there are still a couple of restrictions we must keep in place.
- We can only re-open salons which don’t need to be accessed through a communal lounge. (Where they do, they must stay closed for now).
- Hairdressers will need to provide us with the right paperwork to say they are working safely and still following current guidelines before they can come into schemes.
All communal lounges will stay closed until restrictions are planned to end on 21 June.
For these last few weeks, please stay safe in your homes and just be patient for a little longer and we will see you very soon.
With a hopeful end to Covid-19 restrictions in sight, we wanted to share our own plans for coming out of lockdown.
The government’s plan means there could be an end to the restrictions in sight, but it depends on us all keeping to the rules before we can return to any kind of normal living.
With over 20 million people vaccinated, we now have about a third of the adult population with a good defence against the virus, but the first big test to getting things back on track was on Monday, when our schools reopened. Fingers crossed everything continues to go well.
Working through the Pandemic to Provide Your Services
We have tried to provide as normal a service as possible during the pandemic, but we also needed to be sure we could change that service quickly if we needed to. Some other housing associations decided to only provide an emergency repair service, and are still doing so. We did the same in the first lockdown, but with those that followed, without breaking any restrictions, we felt we must try to provide as many services as we could, that was our responsibility to you and you needed us to step up to that. As well as repairs, we carried out all our safety inspections, and we continued with all our planned health and safety work. We also continued with our property condition surveys, (we did pause these in the third lockdown, but we re-started them on 8 March), and our estate services. One thing the virus didn’t do was stop people from needing homes, so our lettings continued. These were done virtually, so the process was a bit different, but it has worked well. That said, we never compromised anyone’s safety and always respected your views and wishes when it came to shielding and self-isolating.
If all goes well, these are the government's plans for 8 March 2021
- Schools and colleges open.
- Exercise with one other person is allowed outdoors.
- Care services can re-start.
- Travel should still only be as necessary, and no holidays yet.
- Weddings are allowed (with 30 people at most).
- Funerals and wakes are allowed (with six people at most).
- In your home, it’s still restricted to your own household.
For now, you might not see that much change. Until we know things are continuing to get better, we aren’t going to ask our teams to go back to our offices or back out on site unless it’s absolutely necessary, so that means you might not see your customer partner for a few more weeks. We won’t be opening up communal lounges in our independent living schemes just yet either, (although we are looking closely at how and when we will do this as we recognise how much residents miss them), and we won't offer mutual exchanges just yet.
With repairs, we are going to prioritise those that are urgent to make sure your homes are safe, or that have been outstanding a while to make sure we catch up on any backlog. Our contractors have also had to work around their operatives shielding, or being ill, Covid has affected everyone. That being said, we have a duty to you and your homes, and we will work hard to make sure repairs are done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Until then, please bear with us and continue to follow the government’s guidelines to stay in your homes.
Claire Stone, Executive Director, Customer Experience
5 February 2021
As we reach the end of the first month of 2021, who’d have thought we’d still be talking about Covid-19? This time last year, most of us were only just hearing about the strange new virus, but how quickly that changed.
And so did we, almost overnight in fact, to make sure we could keep you and our teams safe, and deliver your services. Our teams worked from home, and that’s where they’ve stayed, finding new ways to keep you safe and secure in your homes, no matter what comes our way.
In line with current government guidance, we are still carrying out your repairs and safety checks, letting our homes to new residents, making improvements with our planned programme and working on your estates – all Covid safe of course. Your safety is our main concern, and it’s the concern of our contractors too, so we are staying in close contact with them so we’ll know if there’s anything that might stop them getting to you. Whatever the situation, we will always do our best to meet our timescales and get the job done, but it is more of a challenge at the moment as we are having to cope with higher levels of sickness. So, although we are doing our very best to meet our service standards, I cannot guarantee we will and I’m asking for your continued patience and understanding.
It’s also important that we think about each other at this time. We are all at home much more, which has, perhaps understandably, seen more complaints about noise and nuisance. Juggling work and home schooling isn’t easy for any of us, and many teams are having to work flexibly to fit it all in. Please bear with us if we take a little longer to get back to you, we are still here, if you need us.
If you are self-isolating or shielding and you don’t want to let our contractors in, that’s okay, we can rearrange your repair or planned improvement for when you feel safe again. And, if a contractor turns up without the proper personal, protective equipment (PPE), please let us know, because that should definitely not be happening.
In your personal statement, which is coming in April, you will be able to see how we’ve performed during the year and, in the next few weeks, you will receive your new rent and service charge notices. These come at the same time every year, but we can see things might be different this year. If you’re worried, because you’re furloughed, unemployed or you just don’t know where to turn, please talk to us. We don’t judge, we just want to help.
Whatever changes when we are through this pandemic, one thing that will never change is our commitment to you. I want to reassure you that we are here when you need us. Things might get worse before they can get better, and there is always the chance that we might have to change some services, but we will always talk with you, listen to you and help you wherever we can. And if you want to talk, about anything, we are only ever a call, email or webchat away.
Until things are better, stay safe
Paul Dolan, Chief Executive
4 January 2021
With the new national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night, 2021 certainly isn't starting out the way we'd hoped.
We are continuing to keep a very close eye on the situation, and working closely with our contractors to understand what impact the new lockdown might have on our ability to deliver our services.
For the next day or so it will be business as usual, and you should continue to report any repairs, or contact us just as you would normally. Once we have had those talks with our contractors, we will update this page if there are any changes in service we need to let you know about. We are looking at all areas of our service, repairs, safety checks, maintenance, lettings, estate services etc., and making sure we always follow government guidance for how we should be delivering them.
We may also use other channels to let you know if there are any major changes in service.
In the meantime, our main priority is as it always has been throughout the pandemic, to keep our residents, our colleagues and our contractors safe. If you or anyone in your household is shielding, and you are worried how that might affect any repairs you have booked, please get in touch with us. Also, please let us know if any of our contractors are not wearing the correct personal protective clothing or following the rules for social distancing. They too must follow government guidelines.
For details of the restrictions under the latest lockdown, please refer to the Gov.UK Coronavirus page and please keep an eye on this page for our latest updates.
Stay home and stay safe
Claire Stone, Executive Director of Customer Experience
30 December 2020
As the prime minister announced tougher new restrictions yesterday (30 December) which place millions more people into tiers three and four, here's a reminder of what the restrictions in each tier are:
- No mixing indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your household or bubble.
- You can meet in a group of up to six in other outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or the countryside.
- Shops, gyms, swimming pools and personal care services (such as hairdressing) can stay open.
- Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway.
- Collective worship can take place, but no mixing outside your bubble.
- Small wedding ceremonies can take place, but not receptions.
- Sports fans cannot attend events in stadiums.
- Indoor entertainment venues - such as bowling alleys and cinemas - must stay closed.
- You should not travel to and from tier three areas.
These restrictions are similar to the last national lockdown:
- Everyone should stay at home, unless they have a "reasonable excuse" such as work or education.
- All non-essential shops must close.
- Hairdressers and nail bars must close.
Indoor entertainment venues must close.
- Gyms and indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios must close.
- You cannot meet other people indoors, unless you live with them or they are part of your support bubble.
- You should not leave tier four areas or travel abroad, except for limited reasons (including work and education).
- Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people in tier four areas are advised to stay at home as much as possible. The rules is if you can't work from home, you shouldn't go to work.
From midnight on 30 December, these are the areas that have been placed in tier four:
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey).
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough).
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe).
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre).
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington).
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale).
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan).
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees).
North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland.
There are no areas have moved into a lower tier and all areas that were already in tier four will stay in tier four.
We will continue to provide all our services as best we can within these new restrictions, but we will consider changing them if we are required to do to follow government guidance and to make sure our customers, colleagues and contractors are protected.
21 DECEMBER 2020
On Saturday evening, following the news that a new strain of the coronavirus is spreading quickly, the Prime Minister announced two big changes to the coronavirus rules by introducing new tier 4 restrictions and changes to the mixing of households over Christmas.
Everyone in the country is affected by the changes in some way. At best, they are disappointing, at worse, devastating, but they are designed to try and keep people safe. The new rules are:
- Christmas bubbles will now only apply to Christmas Day and in tiers 1 to 3 only.
- People in tier 4 areas can only mix with members of their own household and support bubble. (The Christmas bubble rule for tiers 1, 2 and 3 does not apply in tier 4).
- People in tier 4 cannot join Christmas bubbles in tiers 1 to 3.
- People in tiers 1 to 3 should not travel into tier 4 areas unless absolutely necessary for work or emergencies.
- Everyone is being asked to stay local.
- No travel is allowed between England and Scotland throughout Christmas.
The new tier 4 restrictions apply in large parts of south-east England. They cover those arears which were in tier 3 before - Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (not Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings. The restrictions also apply in all 32 boroughs of London and in areas in the East of England, including Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex.
A large number of our residents are affected by the new tier 4 restrictions, which are:
- You should stay at home, unless you have a 'reasonable excuse' – work, education, training, childcare, medical appointments and emergencies and religious worship.
- You cannot meet other people indoors, unless they live with you or form part of your support bubble.
You should not travel outside tier four areas or travel abroad, except where necessary (such as work or education).
All non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail bars, indoor entertainment venues, gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios are closed. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not allowed except in exceptional circumstances.
We will continue to provide all our services in these new restrictions, but we will make sure our customers, colleagues and contractors are protected in line with the government’s guidance.
We will still deliver a full repairs service and residents should still report emergency and non-urgent repairs. However, with the impact on travel between tiers, we may not be able to make our four hour emergency appointments, but we will do our very best. Emergencies will be a priority and we will be making sure contractors check with residents to support anyone who is self-isolating. We will take details of non-emergency repairs, but we won’t make any appointments until the new year. (We would do this anyway to be sure we can always respond to emergencies during the festive season when there are less people working).
Government guidance is that construction work can continue in tier 4 so we will continue to deliver our planned programmes where they have been agreed. We will focus on those that are most important and make sure we follow the tightest safety guidelines.
We will continue to carry out work on our empty homes so we can let them to people who need them, but only where it is safe to do so.
Our staff will still carry out necessary site visits but they will not come into your homes. If they need to enter for an emergency, they will follow safe working practices and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. We will not have staff travelling across tiers.
Our Independent Living Schemes
In our independent living schemes, visitors are now only allowed in on Christmas Day and only in the flat of the resident they are visiting.
Residents have reported seeing numbers of people coming and going where they shouldn’t be during lockdown. We don’t have the powers to stop this happening. If you want to report any neighbours breaking lockdown guidelines, please call 101.
If you have any questions about the change in rules, or to check which tier you come under and what you can and can’t do, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
We would like to wish everyone the very best over the festive season, and hope that you can enjoy it as much as possible. But, above all, please stay safe.
Here's to hoping for a better year for everyone in 2021.
Claire Stone, Executive Director, Customer Experience
2 NOVEMBER 2020
As we enter the government's new, national lockdown, which starts on Thursday 5 November, I wanted to reassure you that our services will carry on as normal for the time being.
We will continue to monitor all the government guidance closely and, if we need to make any changes to our services, such as pausing non-urgent repairs or lettings again, we will make sure we keep you updated on this page and our social media channels.
Although the restrictions of this new lockdown are clearer for all of us, the detail of exactly what we can and can't do may still be a little confusing. Please check Gov.UK for the very latest guidance, or if you have any worries or doubts.
If you have any worries about paying your rent through the lockdown, and the weeks that follow, please talk to us, we can help.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, we will always be here to keep you and your families as safe as possible, and keep our service as normal as possible.
Stay safe and well
Claire Stone, Executive Director of Customer Experience
15 OCTOBER 2020
The coronavirus has once again been the main subject of every news report this week - all for the wrong reasons.
In trying to stop the growing number of infections, the government has stepped up restrictions with a system of three 'tiers' of lockdown in the areas with the highest number of cases.
Many of your homes are in these areas.
Although the new measures do not have a direct impact on our services at the moment, it could mean things may change over the next few months. Decisions around how some services will be provided in an area will be made by the local council, which means there will be differences from one area to the next, and it could become very confusing. What we hope is clear, however, is that your safety and security is our number one priority.
We will keep you up to date with any changes in service we have to make, for example if we have to pause non-emergency repairs again because of tighter restrictions, on this page.
Over the next few weeks and months, things are likely to change often, but we will always be here to keep you and your families as safe as possible, and keep our service as normal as possible.
Stay safe and well.
Claire Stone, Executive Director of Customer Experience
24 SEPTEMBER 2020
22 September, the government announced new, tighter restrictions to try and stop the second spike and further spread of the coronavirus.
These measures could last six months.
One of the measures was a turnaround from just a short while ago, in that people should not now return to work if they can work from home.
At all times, your safety, and the safety of our staff, is our absolute top priority. That is why we have decided not to re-open any of our offices until at least 31 March 2021.
Our aim is to make sure you are as safe, secure and warm in your homes, with as little inconvenience and disruption to service as possible. We don’t have to be in our offices to do that. Our staff have been working from home since the lockdown began and, although we had to pause some services, such as non-urgent repairs, these have since re-started. We apologise for the catching up we need to do, but we need to make sure we get to the most important repairs first. Thank you for bearing with us until we can get to you.
As yet, we don’t have any reason to think that we will need to pause any of our services again, but if we do, it will only be to follow whatever the government guidelines are at the time to keep you and our colleagues safe.
Thank you for your patience, support and understanding.
18 SEPTEMBER 2020
Following the Government's announcement of new local lockdown rules in some areas of the north west and north east, we can confirm that our services in these areas will continue unchanged. The guidance has been introduced to limit social interactions between different households, and should not impact us on being able to deliver the same level of service you have been receiving from us since July.
If this situation changes we will issue a further statement on this page and on our social media channels.
14 SEPTEMBER 2020
The government has announced new limits on the number of people we can all see socially.
From today, Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with), you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors.
The police have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you must:
- meet in groups of 6 or less
- follow social distancing rules
- limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
- meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation.
There are exceptions where groups can be larger than six people,for example, around work, childcare and education, supervised child and youth activities, emergency assistance, weddings and funerals.
Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means - for example - a tradesperson, such as one of our contractors, can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.
Some local authorities are further restricting the number of visitors to residential homes, which means we have to make further changes to our visitors' policies in our extracare and independent living schemes. We will keep residents living in these schemes updated, but please talk to your scheme manager now if you have any questions.
More information on all the government's Coronavirus rules and guidelines can be found on the Gov UK Frequently Asked Questions page.
31 JULY 2020
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock announced last night that following an increase in the rise in new Coronavirus cases in the North of England, new local measures were to be introduced today (31/07/20). Full details of the announcement are on the gov.uk website.
What are the new restrictions?
Under the new restrictions, separate households are not permitted to mix with other households apart from those in their support bubbles.
The new measures mean that households in the affected areas cannot:
- Meet with people from other households inside a private home or garden;
- Visit someone else’s home or garden, including those outside the affected areas;
- Socialise with people from other households in public venues e.g. pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions.*
- Share a car with people from another household
*Households may attend these venues with people from the same household (or their support bubble) but should avoid interaction with others. Businesses should take steps to ensure people do not interact with people from other households, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance.
Which areas are affected by the new restrictions?
The new measures affect around four million people living in the following areas:
- All of Greater Manchester:
Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan
- East Lancashire:
Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen
- West Yorkshire:
Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
How long will these new restrictions be in place?
It is understood there is currently no endpoint to the restrictions but they will be subject to a weekly review.
How do these new restrictions affect our services?
Our main contractors have confirmed that they have the appropriate protocols in place and are happy to continue, business-as-usual. If there is any change to this we will provide updates on our website and social media channels for customers as soon as possible.
Lettings are not affected and will continue with limited contact between Customer Partners and customers, observing current social distancing rules.
Independent Living Schemes and Extra Care Schemes, this will mean that visitors will be limited to support bubbles only.
29 JULY 2020
As the country tries to get back to some kind of normal after the coronavirus lockdown, we wanted to know we are restarting all of our services.
The safety of you, your family, your community and our colleagues has been, and will be, our number one priority. We might not have been in our offices, but we have been working behind the scenes at home to make sure we could provide your services safely and securely.
We had to pause the following services:
- Non urgent repairs
- Estate Services
- Planned Improvements
- Home Visits
These services never stopped, or we have now started them again:
- Keeping you Safe: even in lockdown, our gas and electrical tests and servicing never stopped. These tests are still our top priority.
- Looking after your home: although we could only offer an emergency repairs service, we can now make appointments for all your repairs. If you reported a repair in lockdown, please bear with us while we work through backlog. We will get in touch.
- Providing Homes: we had to pause letting most of our homes, but we are now delighted to be able to let them again and help people who need a home.
- Keeping your Estates clean and tidy: keeping everything clean during lockdown was even more important so we never stopped, but we did pause our estate services, like gardening, window cleaning etc. We have now re-started these services.
- Improving your home: from 1 September we are re-starting our planned improvements programme. If you are due any bathroom, kitchen, heating or other upgrades this year, we will already have been in touch.
- Supporting You: whether you needed help with your rent, your tenancy, a complaint, anti-social behaviour or just in general, we have always been here for you, even whilst working from home. For the time being, our service has to stay mainly online or over the telephone, as we can’t offer personal visits yet, unless it is absolutely necessary. This is to keep you, your family, our colleagues and your community safe.
- If we need to be there – if we or our contractors need to visit, we will ask you a number of questions so we can keep everyone as safe as possible. We will always wear the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow social distancing measures. We will also carry hand sanitisers and wipe down any areas we touch.
The last few months have been challenging for us all. Thank you for your patience, understanding and support. We are getting back out there and we always have been, and always will be, here if you need us.
Thank you for helping us to keep you safe.
9 JUNE 2020
If you're due to have one of our contractors visit your home, then we'd recommend watching this short animation by the Association of Safety & Compliance Professionals (ASCP). It shows the steps we'll take to ensure the safety of you and our contractors when they're attending an appointment at your home.
Help and Advice
Our Useful links page includes links to the NHS, Gov.UK, Citizen's Advice, Universal Credit and much more.
Want to understand how the virus is affecting your local council services? We have links to every local authority website where we have homes.
23 March 2020
“Our priority at all times is to keep you safe and comfortable in your home. We are all living in an unprecedented time and with it comes a lot of uncertainty. The scale of the issues we are experiencing have not been seen before. Your home should always be a place you feel safe, and we know this is all the more true now. We will do our best to make sure that is the case whilst balancing the need to follow government guidance and keep you and our colleagues safe and well. To do this, we have had to change the way we work and find new ways to support you.
We are currently working hard in the background on a number of plans to get us through the crisis over the coming months, which include not only how we minimise the risk of spreading the virus to you and your family, but how we continue to provide essential services to you.
Given the fast moving nature of the situation, we have built this area of our website so we can keep you updated on any changes to our service and hopefully address any queries you have.”
Chief Executive, Accent Group
FROM OUR NEWS PAGES - please check our latest articles as the information in these is likely to have changed.
'Grounds Maintenance Update'
'Accent's position on the economic impact of the coronavirus situation'
Links to further help, advice and services on our website
If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, or are feeling unwell current government advice is that you should self-isolate for two weeks. Please let us know if you are currently self-isolating by completing this form: