Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: 7 April 2021

We are here to help. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions that may be able to answer your query. If you do need to contact us you can use our online web chat facility or our customer self-serve portal. If you do need to call us, you can contact our Customer Hub on 0300 123 1966.

We’re pleased to share that we are now able to increase our services to you, whilst continuing to make sure that we keep everyone in your home and our colleagues safe.

We’ve carried out risk assessment to make sure that we comply with the government’s guidance on managing risk and being ‘COVID-secure’ and we have consulted with customers to ensure that the steps we are putting in place takes a safety first approach.

We are now trying to provide as full a service as we possibly can but we may have to deliver some of our services differently to ensure that you, our residents and our colleagues can remain safe.

We understand that this has been one of the more difficult delays for customers during the lockdown period, but we are now operating a full repairs service providing emergency and routine repairs.

Click here to report a repair

Once your repair appointment has been confirmed, prior to the repair operative attending your property, they will call you to carry out a telephone assessment to confirm there are no changes to any circumstances to the health of all residents within your home. On arrival at the property the repair operative will also make a final check with you to confirm if you have been unwell/other residents in the property have been unwell or are shielding. The doorstep check is a final precautionary measure to protect the health and wellbeing of customers and colleagues. Whilst this may appear intrusive it is necessary to make sure we can deliver your service safely.

All of our colleagues who visit your home to carry out a repair will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and will follow a strict cleaning regime including sanitising their hands and using antibacterial wipes to clean the working area of the repair and their tools and equipment.

Our colleagues who are working to deliver services in your home will ensure they follow all of the most current Government guidance to keep you safe. 

This means you must make sure that you keep a 2 metre distance from our colleagues at all times, stay in a different room from where our colleague is working and if possible wear a face covering. 

Mixing with other households is now against the law unless the person is part of your support bubble, therefore if we are due to attend your home and the safety of our colleagues is at any risk due to social mixing then our colleagues will not enter your property and your visit will be cancelled.  

To find out more about what we will do to protect you when we visit your home and what part you can play to prevent the spread of infection,visit the our services for customers page and select the repairs drop down.

If you’re unwell but your repair is an emergency, we’ll put special measures in place to get your repair done. If for any reason this isn’t possible, we’ll talk to you about whether there’s another way we might be able to gain access and resolve the issue.

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed that in accordance with Public Health England guidance, our obligation to carry out an annual gas safety check at all of our properties has not been relaxed and we are still required to complete this essential work.

Therefore if you are due to have your annual gas safety check, we will be writing to you shortly to inform you of our plans to carry out this essential work.

We want to reassure you that any work carried out in your home, either by ourselves or by our contractor, will be done following government guidelines. This means they will implement social distancing keeping 2 metres apart and will also wear personal protective equipment where required. All engineers that visit your property will be taking all the necessary precautions whilst working in your home in order to keep you and them safe.

Our planned investment programme of works to customer homes is continuing. We have reviewed all of the guidelines issued by the Government and Public Health England and we want to reassure customers that all work undertaken will be carried out safely.

If you are due to receive investment works in the near future we will contact you to inform you of our plans and the safety measure we will be putting in place.

If you are affected by coronavirus and struggling financially as a result of losing your job or seeing a reduction in your earnings, you may be able to claim certain benefits.

If you are employed, Government has guaranteed that employees unable to work as a consequence of coronavirus will receive 80% of their salary. You should speak to your employer about this. The benefits you can claim will depend on your circumstances.

You should make a claim for benefits (i.e. Universal Credit) immediately because you may be entitled to help towards your rent. Click here to make a claim.  

Universal Credit is available for customers in rented accommodation and shared ownership properties. If you are already claiming Universal Credit or Housing Benefit and your circumstances change during this period you must inform the relevant office immediately. Under the current circumstances we advise you to contact them by phone or visit their website for advice on how to contact them. If you claim Universal Credit you will be able to apply for an advance payment and you will be expected to pay your rent as normal from this.

If you are self-employed and can not work (or are now out of work) you will be able to claim a grant through coronavirus self employment income support scheme. Self-employed customers will not see their first grant payment until approximately June 2020. 

You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period

If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. You can find further information at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

If you have lost your job or seen a reduction in your earnings as a result of coronavirus you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit. This will depend on your personal circumstances and you will need to apply for Universal Credit online.

If you have been working for at least 2 to 3 years and paid National Insurance contributions then you may be able to claim ‘New Style’ Jobseekers Allowance. Click here to find out more.

In addition, if you have been paying National Insurance for at least 2 years and are not fit to work then you may be able to claim ‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance. Click here to find out more.

You can apply for Universal Credit online. The following links contain the relevant information about making a claim. It is essential that you do not delay any application for benefits as you may lose out on money you would have been entitled to.

Universal Credit https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-new-style-esa

‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-new-style-jsa

It is important to time your application for Universal Credit carefully. If you are still waiting for any final wage / salary payment you might be best to wait till you have received that money before you apply for Universal Credit. Otherwise, you might find you have to re-apply again because your final wage / salary payment meant you were not entitled to UC and your claim was closed. In addition, this website has further advice on Universal Credit and coronavirus: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

In each of the links you will see reference to the usual process of attending appointments and providing certain pieces of evidence. During this time the Department of Work and Pensions has relaxed its rules around these aspects of claiming the benefits. Therefore, you will not necessarily be required to attend appointments or provide evidence. Due to the current circumstances we advise you to contact them by telephone or via their website for more information. If you require further assistance or advice about any of these issues please do not hesitate to contact your Neighbourhood Services Manager.

It is vital that you contact your Neighbourhood Service Manager at Great Places Housing Group to discuss your present circumstances. You will need to advise your Neighbourhood Service Manager of any reasons why you cannot pay your rent and discuss what you will be paying in the meantime. Your Neighbourhood Service Manager will discuss any existing payment arrangements with you and advise you of what information they need to support these arrangements. If you are still in work with no change to your income you will be expected to pay your rent on time. If you have been made redundant or are now out of work for other reasons you will need to claim Universal Credit. Once you have your benefit claim in place we can then set up a payment arrangement that’s realistic and affordable. If you claim Universal Credit you will be able to apply for an advance payment and you will be expected to pay your rent as normal from this.

Mortgage payers will still have to pay back mortgages for the three month payment break. If you had a 3 month rent period deferred you would still be required to pay it and it could be very difficult in the future when you are paying back any accumulated rent arrears. If you can not pay your rent due to reduced hours or loss of job due to coronavirus, you need to claim benefits in order to ensure your rent is being paid.

If you do not pay your rent, Great Places Housing Group will need to follow its existing arrears procedure. We appreciate that the coronavirus situation is unusual and will hinder some customers from paying their rent in full and on time. As a result we can discuss existing arrangements with customers and make new agreements based on your individual circumstances. It is vital that you discuss this with your Neighbourhood Service Manager and do not stop making payments or choose to reduce payments without first discussing this. If you are in a position to pay your rent during this time and you choose not to pay we will continue to take appropriate action. You risk losing your home if you do not pay your rent in full and on time. It is therefore essential to discuss your situation with the Neighbourhood Services Manager.

Great Places operate non debit weeks in some former local authority properties in line with the tenancies when these were transferred to Great Places. These properties will not be receiving any additional non debit weeks. These non debit weeks are scheduled in line with the tenancy agreements. We cannot create extra non debit weeks due to coronavirus.

It is not possible to change pre-existing tenancy agreements and create non debit weeks where there were none before. However, if you are struggling financially please discuss this with your Neighbourhood Services Manager.

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage you will need to contact your mortgage provider to find out what options are available to you. If you are a shared owner you may be entitled to some financial help through Universal Credit.

In some instances there are mortgage lenders who are offering customers a mortgage payment holiday but you need to speak to your mortgage provider about this.