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

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.

 

Am I vulnerable?

Those more at risk are people who:

  • are 70 or over
  • have a long-term condition
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system

The government has contacted those most at risk with guidance on how to stay safe. You can find more information on their website.

 

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 7 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.

If you have been contacted by the government because you have a underlying health condition and are more at risk, you are advised stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.

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’re at high risk because of an underlying health condition or because you have symptoms. 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.

 

Will my child still be able to access free school meals?

If you have children and are concerned about the lack of free school meals as a result of school closures, please get in touch with the school to ask them about the provisions they’re putting in place to support families. The government has announced a new weekly shopping voucher scheme for schools that are closed due to coronavirus, or ones that can’t provide meals for collection and delivery themselves. You’ll be able to get a £15 voucher per child per week, which will be coordinated directly by your child’s school so they will contact you about this. You can find out more about the scheme on the government website.

What if I’m struggling to pay my utilities bills?

Contact your supplier straight away as they will be able to support you. The government is working with energy suppliers to support customers - you can find out more on the Ofgem website.

 

What if I’m a prepayment customer?

Tell your supplier straightaway if you can’t top up your meter. This includes if you are ill with coronavirus or following guidance to stay at home and self-isolate, and if you don’t have anyone to help you.

The government has launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to support you during the coronavirus outbreak. No credit meters will be disconnected during the outbreak.

If you are able to go out, and your local top up shop closes, contact your supplier who can help. If you are a smart meter customer, you should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.

Are you making any changes to your services?

Following government advice, we’re minimising face to face contact where we can and our contact with you will be via telephone and or email. Please bear with us as this will be a different service to the one you may be used to. Services are running with changes in some areas. And our support services are available if you need advice regarding changes in your income or employment status. This is a rapidly changing situation, so we’ll ensure that the way we work and our services continue to match government guidance.

 

Are your customer involvement and volunteer groups and events still taking place?

Following government guidelines, we’re cancelling or postponing any customer involvement or volunteer groups and events.

Are you completing repairs?

We know repairs or improvements to your home are important to you and we've reintroduced our core repairs service, focusing initially on repairs that you’ve already reported to us. We’ll also continue to deal with all emergency repairssafety works and checks (such as gas servicing), and our caretaking and grounds maintenance services.

What should I do if I’ve reported a repair?

As we resume our services, you don’t need to contact us if you’re already reported a repair or had one cancelled during lockdown. We haven’t forgotten, we’ll contact you with an appointment time as soon as we’re able to.

What if I can't make my new repair appointment?

If we’ve contacted you with a repair appointment and you need to change it, please use your online account if possible as we expect our phone lines to be busy. If your repair’s being completed by a contractor, please contact them directly to rearrange.

What if I need to report a new repair?

Please continue to report new repairs to us, so we can schedule in appointments once we’re able to. However, non-emergency repairs are unlikely to be scheduled before the Autumn, while we focus on completing already reported repairs.

What do I need to know before my repair appointment?

When completing repairs, we want to reassure you that we’ve put measures in place to ensure your safety, which we’ll tell you about before your appointment. These measures are in line with the current government advice and guidance. There are some steps that we’ll need you to take too, which include remaining 2 metres away from our members of staff if they’re working in or around your home in line with the government’s social distancing guidance. This also includes staff who may be working in communal areas such as caretakers, electrical engineers and trades carrying out any health and safety works.

If you, or anyone in your family has coronavirus symptoms or if you’ve taken the decision to self-isolate, please let us know before the appointment. 

Are you still completing annual safety checks?

We'll carry out our annual gas services closer to the date that they’re due, rather than 10 weeks in advance. We’ll contact you again nearer the date that your gas service certificate expires to arrange to carry out the check. We’ve also taken the decision to cancel our electrical testing and MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) servicing for the time being. Please be reassured that we’ve not made this decision lightly. If you are concerned that your boiler or the electrics in your home are unsafe please call us on 0800 652 0898.

When are you reintroducing your lettings service?

We've launched a virtual lettings service, which allows customers to view and sign up for properties online in most cases. You don’t need to contact us, we’ll be contacting customers to let them know when homes are available to view using our virtual viewing videos, or when sign ups can be arranged. 

When will you be resuming mutual exchanges?

We’re working hard to re-start mutual exchanges too, however this is more complex as it involves working with other registered housing providers. We hope to be able to restart this service in July and our focus will initially be on the applications that are currently on hold. Therefore, we won’t be taking any new mutual exchange applications for the time being and we’ll review this in August and update you in our regular communications.

 

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

We’re continuing to support customers living in our older persons’ and support accommodation with regular welfare calls to those that want them to check on their wellbeing and twice daily cleans of touchable surfaces in communal areas within schemes. If you live in one of our schemes, please continue to follow the latest government guidance and maintain social distancing around the scheme.

Can I continue to use the communal lounges at my sheltered housing scheme?

We won’t close your communal lounge, but we strongly advise you to follow public health guidance and social distancing recommendations to keep you and others safe.

Can I continue to use the communal laundry facilities?

You can continue to use these facilities, unless you have been unwell or are self-isolating.

Can I continue to book out the guest rooms in my sheltered housing scheme?

No, these will be closed on a temporary basis.

Will the hair salon stay open at my sheltered housing scheme?

No, these will be closed on a temporary basis.

Are you reviewing my catering arrangements?

We’re currently reviewing options for catering at our extra care schemes. Service users that have a care package in place with a meal call included will have their meals collected by the care team and taken to their rooms. Residents that don’t have the meal call within their care plan can either collect their own meal or eat in the dining room. The dining room has been changed a little to ensure social distancing. If you don’t have the meal call included and would like your meals delivered, there may be a charge for this – this is something that you need to discuss with your on site care provider.

Will my social events still take place?

All social events at your scheme, such as coffee mornings, will be cancelled until further notice. Whilst we understand this may be disappointing to hear, this decision has been taken in line with Public Health England guidance to limit your risk of contracting the virus.

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.

Unfortunately, as construction sites have closed due to the social distancing rules, if your home is not yet build complete we’ll be in touch with you to agree a delayed completion date.

We’re currently looking at how we can refund customers for any missed cleaning visits in April and May when we had to divert some staff to clean our Older Persons’ schemes. We’re considering the options and the best way forward, but we’ll wait until we’re sure that there isn’t going to be a second coronavirus peak that may impact on our services again before confirming any details. We’ll keep you informed.

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.