Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Don't leave home if you or someone you live with has either of these symptons. 

 

How can I stop coronavirus from spreading?

  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • And wash your hands as soon as you get home – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze and put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands
  • Wear a mask

 

Visit the NHS website for more information about staying at home and social distancing.

When and for how long do I need to self-isolate?

If you have symptoms, stay at home for 10 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Visit the NHS website for more information.

 

I'm self-isolating – do I need to let you know?

If you feel unwell or are self-isolating and have an appointment booked for a repair or property visit, please let us know and we can rearrange the appointment at a future date.

Where can I access support if I’m self-isolating?

We know that many of you are having to self-isolate because you or someone you live with has symptoms or you've been contacted by Track and Trace. If you're self-isolating and need some help, whether it be with food supplies, shopping or a friendly chat, we've put together a list of local organisations who can provide support to you.

 

I’m self-isolating and it’s very lonely – what should I do?

Many of us will find social distancing and self-isolation boring, lonely and frustrating. You may also feel worried or anxious, have problems sleeping or miss your family and friends. But there are some simple things that you can do to help you stay physically and mentally active during this time:

  • Try exercising at home – the NHS website has some great ideas
  • Stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media, so you don’t feel lonely
  • Look after your mental wellbeing – Every Mind Maters has some helpful tips
  • Make time for your favourite hobby or the things you enjoy – like reading, cooking, watching films or listening to the radio
  • Try to eat healthy and drink plenty of water
  • You can go outside to exercise, but make sure you stay 2 metres away from others

We know that some of you are worried about how you'll pay your rent if you have coronavirus, are self-isolating or your job situation changes. We want to reassure our customers that no one will lose their home as a result of financial hardship caused by the virus. If you're worried about paying your rent, please get in touch. We're here to provide help and advice.

 

What if I can’t work – do I qualify for Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now available for eligible people diagnosed with, or self-isolating due to coronavirus. It’s now payable from day one instead of day four for affected individuals. As well as this, the government’s introducing a temporary alternative to a fit note for coronavirus related absences – you will be able to get it by calling the NHS on 111. SSP is paid at the rate of £94.25 per week.

To qualify you will need to be classed as an employee, earn an average of at least £118 per week, tell your employer you’re sick before their deadline. Agency workers are also entitled to statutory sick pay. You will not be eligible if you are getting Statutory Maternity Pay or have received the maximum amount of Statutory Sick Pay (28 weeks).

The government has also announced that it’ll pay 80% of 'retained' employees’ (employees who'd otherwise be laid off) wages if they’re not working due to coronavirus. The amount paid will be capped at a maximum of £2,500 per month per employee, and the money will be issued through grants which can be paid out to any employer.

Find out more on the government website.

 

What do I do if I’m not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

If you’re not entitled to SSP you may be able to claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance, based on your national insurance contributions. This is paid at the rate of £73.10 per week. This will be available from the first day of sickness or absence rather than the eighth day.

If you can’t get Statutory Sick Pay or New Style Employment and Support Allowance you may be able to claim Universal Credit without going to the job centre. But this is usually not paid until 1 month and 7 days after your claim – although you can ask for a repayable advance. However, if you’re getting other benefits such as Housing Benefit or Tax Credits these will stop, and you may be no better off. Seek advice before claiming if you’re on other benefits.

You can apply for Universal Credit online here. If you need to make an appointment, call the number you are given when you submit your claim and explain your situation. In these circumstances, you can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without attending a job centre.

When applying for Universal Creidt, you'll need to verify your identity. You can do this in three ways:

  1. By using GOV.UK Verify
  2. By being called back by the DWP or responding to messages on their journal from their case manager 
  3. By using your existing Government Gateway – you may have used this to check your tax credits, send a personal tax return, or check their state pension. 

Find out more on the government website.

 

What if I’m self-employed and can’t work?

The government has announced a new Self-employment Income Support Scheme. This is a grant scheme for people who are self-employed or who are a member of a partnership that’s lost income due to coronavirus.

It allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, for the next 3 months. If you’re eligible, the government will pay the grant into your bank account in one instalment. You can’t apply for this scheme yet. HMRC will contact you if you’re eligible and invite you to apply online. The scheme may be extended if needed. Visit the government website for more information

The government is also providing additional help for self-employed people:

  • Delaying VAT payments for 3 months. And delaying Income Tax payments until January 2021. All UK businesses are eligible
  • Extra grants for small businesses that already pay little or no business rates. This will be a £10,000 grant to eligible businesses
  • Increased amounts of Universal Credit, which you claim at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay. You can apply for Universal Credit online hereIf you need to make an appointment, call the number you are given when you submit your claim and explain your situation. In these circumstances, you can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without attending a job centre. Find out more here

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports small and medium-sized enterprises with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years

  • If you’re a director of your own company and paid through PAYE you may be able to get support using the Job Retention Scheme. Find out more here

  • HMRC has set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus . There’s also a new coronavirus HMRC helpline for self-employed people: 0300 4563 565.

Visit the government website for more information on all the support on offer for self-employed people

 

What if i'm a EU National?

If you're an EU national and your income has been affected due to coronavirus, you can apply for Universal Credit. You will have to pass the habitual residence test, unless you have already received a confirmation of your settled status which gives you the entitlement. If you don’t have the settled status yet, you could write in your journal that you stopped working due to coronavirus and therefore should retain worker status which means you will pass habitual residence test and be entitled to Universal Credit.

 

What if I’m on Universal Credit?

The government is increasing the standard Universal Credit allowance by around £1,000 per year for 12 months from 6 April 2020.

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit you do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. People will continue to receive their benefits as normal, but all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended.

Jobcentres remain open, but only to support people who are not able to use phones and online, including homeless people.

You can access your online journal or call the Universal Credit helpline (0800 328 5644).

If your income reduces because you have coronavirus, have to self-isolate, or are caring for someone in your household who is affected, your Universal Credit should change to take this into account. The Minimum Income Floor (which applies to the self-employed) will also be relaxed for those affected by coronavirus.

Find out more on the government website.

 

What if I claim disability benefits?

There will be no reviews or reassessments for Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit for the next 3 months, whether for existing or new claims.

For PIP claimants, if an assessment has already taken place this will continue to be processed. If an assessment has been scheduled, claimants will be contacted by the assessment provider to discuss how this will be taken forward.

ESA and UC claimants whose cases have been referred to the provider will be contacted to take this forward.

 

How can I pay my rent if I’m self-isolating or have the virus?

  • Online - You can pay on-line through your customer account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Login or register here
  • Direct Debit - You can set up and manage a Direct Debit through your online customer account
  • Over the phone -24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialing 0800 652 0898
  • Bank transfer - you can pay your rent straight form your bank account to ours. Our account number is 40614026 and our sort code is 52-41-07. Please quote your tenancy reference number so that we know who the payment is from

 

What if I can’t pay my rent?

We know that some of you are worried about how you'll pay your rent if you have the virus or need to self-isolate. We want to reassure all our customers that no one will lose their home as a result of this virus.

We still have to collect rent, but if you are in financial difficulties, we can help. If you’re worried about paying your rent, please let us know by getting in touch. Our Income recovery and tenancy support teams can help by providing advice with financial and benefit matters.

Your safety and the safety of our staff is our top priority and we’ve been closely following the government’s coronavirus guidance. In light of the lockdown restrictions, we’ve made some changes to our services.

We’re minimising face-to-face contact, so we may be in touch via telephone or email instead. We’ve also made some changes to our repairs service to minimise entry to your home unless absolutely necessary. Click on the Repairs tab below to find out more about how our repairs service is changing.

What repairs are you completing in the current lockdown?

We’ve adapted our repairs service to minimise entry into your home unless absolutely necessary. This means we will continue with emergency repairs, some urgent repairs (e.g. heating and hot water) and limited other repairs from now until further notice. We will also continue with annual safety checks and fire safety works.

An emergency repair is something that needs to be fixed straight away as it poses a risk to your health, safety or security. This could be a gas leak, electrical fault, major damage to the structure of your home, a serious security problem such as a front door that cannot be locked, or the loss of essential services such as water or electricity. You can find out more details on different categories of repairs here.  

If you have a routine repair booked relating to the inside of your home, we’ll be in touch to let you know this has been postponed but please assume that any routine repair to the inside of your home that you have booked won’t go ahead. We understand this may be disappointing to hear but we want to reassure you we’re taking these steps for your safety and your repair will be rescheduled in the coming months when safe for you and us to do so. You don’t need to contact us, we will be in touch with you to re-arrange this at the appropriate time.

We will continue to carry out routine repairs externally.

 

What safety measures are in place if you need to complete a repair at my home?

We will continue with the measures in place to ensure your safety, and the safety of our staff. When arriving at your home, we’ll ask you a series of pre-screening questions to check if you or anyone in your home is self-isolating and/or has any of the coronavirus symptoms. We’ll wear personal protective equipment and bring cleaning materials and we’ll also ask you to keep out of the room or area where we’ll be working. To give added protection we’ll now be expecting you to wear a face mask for us to enter your home. If face masks aren’t worn we reserve the right to not come in.

If you’ve taken the decision to self-isolate at home, please let us know when reporting a repair or if you need to re-schedule an appointment.

 

Will you be installing any new kitchens and bathrooms?

We'll be completing any work in progress, but we won’t be starting any new kitchen or bathroom installations for the time being.

 

What is an emergency repair and how should I contact you?

An emergency repair is something that needs to be fixed straight away as it poses a risk to your health, safety or security. This could be:

  • A gas leak or dangerous electrical fault
  • Major damage to the structure of your home
  • A serious security problem, such as a front door that cannot be locked
  • The loss of essential services, such as water or electricity.

 

What shall I do if I already have an appointment for you to make a routine (non-emergency) repair to my home?

If you have a routine repair booked relating to the inside of your home, we’ll be in touch to let you know this has been postponed but please assume that any routine repair to the inside of your home that you have booked won’t go ahead. We understand this may be disappointing to hear but we want to reassure you we’re taking these steps for your safety and your repair will be rescheduled in the coming months when safe for you and us to do so. You don’t need to contact us, we will be in touch with you to re-arrange this at the appropriate time.

We will continue to carry out routine repairs externally.

 

I need an emergency repair but am self-isolating/have coronavirus so what should I do?

If you have an emergency we’ll still carry our your repair whilst making sure we do everything we can to keep you, your family and our staff safe. We’ll now be asking you a set of pre-screening questions before starting any works and before entering your home. If entering a property, colleagues will wear personal protective equipment and bring cleaning equipment.

Our ground maintenance and caretaking service will continue. We ask that you remain 2 metres away from our staff if they’re working around your home. There may be some changes related to staff availability that could impact on the frequency of cleaning and any changes will be reflected in future service charge adjustments. We hope to keep these to a minimum. To keep everyone safe we request that you wear a face mask when passing through communal areas.

 

Will I get reimbursed for any cleans missed?

Between 23 March and 1 May 2020, we had to reduce our cleaning service in some blocks to allow us to divert our caretakers to our older persons’, sheltered and care homes to support those at greater risk. This meant that over a 6 week period, we only provided communal cleaning at some blocks 3 times.

If you were affected and your rent and/or service charge includes an amount towards the communal cleaning, we’ve recently written to you to give you a gesture of goodwill payment. We’re aware that some grounds maintenance services were also affected over this period, but our grounds team are working to catch these up within the financial year.

We'll review any services missed in the second lockdown in November and between now and April 2021 and provide a further gesture of goodwill payment later this year.

We’ve made the difficult decision to close our play areas as we’re don’t have the staff resource to implement the daily preventative measures in the government coronavirus guidance to enable us to manage the play area safely at this time. We're sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Our sales, lettings and mutual exchange (home swapping) service will continue. Please bear with us as you may experience some delays over the next few weeks. Wherever possible we’ll provide the service virtually and where a physical viewing is absolutely necessary we will have safety and hygiene measures in place and won’t enter a home with you.

What do I need to do before submitting a home swap application?

Before submitting a home swap application, please check that the landlord of the person you’re swapping with is accepting applications, as some landlords and council’s have not resumed their service. Your application can’t be progressed unless all parties involved are able to progress their applications. We’re dealing with a high volume of enquiries, so please ensure that you’re certain that you want to move, and that you have a clear rent account and no other breaches of tenancy which could affect your application. And due to the high number of applications and new processes following coronavirus, it may take us slightly longer than usual to process your application, but please be assured that we’re working as quickly as we can to get your home swap completed.

What measures are in place to support vulnerable and older customers?

We’ve put in place additional measures to ensure the safety and support of our older and more vulnerable customers living in sheltered and extra care homes. This includes additional cleaning of communal areas, hand sanitisers and restrictions on access for any non-essential visits.

The new rules mean that there is no household mixing unless it is with your support bubble or it’s with one other person outside. We’d like to remind you of the importance of following these rules and the government’s 2 metre social distancing guidance within your scheme. Our main priority is to keep you safe and these guidelines also apply in communal areas. If you have any private arrangements for care and support within your home, can you please remind the carer to wear appropriate PPE, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene, to keep you safe and well. We’re looking forward to the rapid roll-out of the vaccine to support our more vulnerable customers.

Where can I get help if I’m experiencing domestic abuse?

Coronavirus will have a serious impact on the lives of women, children and men who are experiencing domestic abuse. If you’re already living with domestic abuse, you may not be able to see the friends and family who usually support you, and some of the places where you go for help or treatment may be closed or offering a reduced service. Please remember that you can still call 999 if you or someone else is in danger. While some domestic abuse support services are not able to offer face to face meetings at this time, there is still help and advice available online and over the phone. These local and national organisations are working hard to ensure they can still support you.

 

  • Hampshire Domestic Abuse Service – 03300 165112
  • Stop Domestic Abuse (Portsmouth) – 023 9206 5494
  • Aurora New Dawn – 023 9421 6816
  • Yellow Door (Southampton) – 023 8063 6313
  • PIPPA (Southampton) – 023 8091 7917
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
  • Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327
  • National LBGT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
  • Silent help from the police: If you need help but are unable to speak because of domestic abuse ring 999 when they answer press 55
  • If you’re a child or young person and domestic abuse is happening in your home or relationship, then call Childline on 0800 1111.

I’m waiting to exchange on my shared ownership home, will this still go ahead?

In line with government advice, we’re continuing to progress exchanges on completed new build homes.  We're talking to your solicitor and your financial advisor every day to progress your purchase.

I’m due to complete on my shared ownership home, will this still go ahead so I can move in?

If your home is complete and your solicitor and mortgage lender are happy to complete your purchase then we're more than happy for you to move into your new home. However, we’re encouraging everyone to following the government’s guidelines on moving home during social distancing restrictions. You can read the latest guidelines here.

We understand that these are challenging times and we’re all spending more time at home, which may make you more aware of your neighbours’ habits and the noise they’re making. Please try to be tolerant of your neighbours and consider how your behaviour may affect them.

We’re getting more incidents of anti-social behaviour incidents reported to us. These are often about people not following the government’s 2-metre social distance rule. Please follow the government guidance when you see your neighbours, particularly in communal areas.  We can’t take any action against people who don’t follow social distancing guidance. But the police do have powers to act where needed. You can let them know here.

We’re still dealing with reports of anti-social behaviour and where the breach of social distancing is also an ASB incident (for example, if a neighbour deliberately approaches you and threatens you), we will deal with it.