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Our response to Coronavirus

Welcome |Supporting our customers| Managing our homes| Delivering Homes| Making the most of our money| Our people|

The safety, health and wellbeing of customers and staff has been our top priority throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Our COVID-19 Business Continuity Planning (BCP) Group reviewed our business continuity plans and carried out scenario planning from early March 2020, building on our existing BCP framework. This enabled us to minimise the impact of the lockdown on operations.

The BCP Group coordinated our response to government recommendations, ensuring we continued to help our most vulnerable customers, provide essential services, and to work with suppliers and contractors to manage the disruption to development activities.

 

  • Customer communications

    Clear, honest and regular communication with customers was vital. We emailed and sent letters to tenants and shared owners during the lockdown, explaining and then updating our response. Social media alerted customers to updates on our website’s coronavirus pages, which included FAQs on finances, employment and health, as well as links to external support. We met our residents’ group, Hydewide Residents Voice, each week, to discuss our response and to gather feedback.

  • Financial support and advice

    Nearly 1,500 customers contacted us within the first four weeks of the lockdown to tell us they were struggling to pay their rent. We helped them review their finances and ensured paying rent remained a priority. We also capped some market and intermediate market rent increases in line with social rents, for three months.

  • Supporting our most vulnerable customers

    A particular focus was on our most vulnerable customers, specifically those living in our supported and sheltered accommodation. With scheme officers working remotely, we contacted residents regularly, making more than 10,000 welfare calls during April. We also liaised with local food banks and other partners to ensure vulnerable residents had enough food, toiletries and household cleaning products.

  • Providing essential repairs and maintenance

    We provided more than 50% of our normal services during lockdown, carrying out essential repairs and health and safety-related compliance work, all with the safety of customers and staff at the forefront of our minds. We contacted customers before appointments, and before staff entered homes, to check if anyone was self-isolating.

  • Managing the financial impact to our business

    We extensively stress-tested our business plans against severe scenarios and so are well-placed to cope with both the short and longer-term financial impacts of COVID-19. Stress tests demonstrated we have a strong business model that can withstand even a very severe economic recession, whether caused by COVID-19 or some other national or global shock.

  • Returning to offices

    We are taking a phased approach to returning to offices, re-introducing office working for some staff, resuming customer services and restarting development activities. Everything will be done according to government advice and always with the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and our customers at the forefront of our decision-making. However, we have shown we can operate with most staff working from home and, having consulted with them. It is clear that we will see greater flexible working in the future.