As part of the service charge annual cycle, in September 2021 we sent out the actual service charge statements to our customers. We know this time of year can cause distress about money and so to help answer your queries about the latest service charge statement, we will be using this webpage to post updates such as progress on responses, answers to common questions we have this year, or even mistakes we've made.
Understanding September 2021 service charge actuals
During COVID19, there was no loss of service to your buildings. Any delays to contracted services were made up within the agreed time frames. You should not expect to pay less as all services were fully carried out during this time.
Here are some service charge items that have seen large increases, and the reasons why:
Bulk waste removal increases
Although your local council empties your bins, we’re responsible for clearing up any bulk items and for dealing with fly tipping. Unfortunately, because local refuse sites were closed during the lockdowns, there was a significant increase in fly tipping last year, which has led to an increase in cost.
We pay a contractor to be on hand and deal with fly tipping when it happens. We’re now looking to secure a fixed price with the contractor, so that if the fly tipping increases over a year, the cost to you won’t.
Fire safety increases
Fire safety costs have increased because we’ve been doing more works as a result of Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs), and in some cases, we’ve increased the frequency of FRAs. This includes installing more systems, that then need regular safety checks and maintenance.
On top of this, we realised that when creating the service charge estimate, we left out the VAT. We’re very sorry for this mistake and have tightened our processes, to ensure this never happens again. This error was only on the fire safety section, and not the other service charge items.
Responsive repairs increase
With many people locked down in their homes over the past 18 months, communal wear and tear, and the need for repairs has increased. We saw a 10% increase in communal responsive repairs and a 44% in major repairs. The buildings have simply been lived in more, which has led to more maintenance needed.
Many restaurants and high street takeaways have closed, or were closed during lockdown. This meant pests had to go elsewhere to find scraps of food, like communal bin areas. People have also been preparing more food at home, rather than going out, and ordering more takeaway deliveries. This has meant there’s more food waste in the communal bin areas, which has attracted more pests for us to deal with.
What if I cannot afford to pay?
If you are experiencing financial problems and are struggling to pay, please visit our page about money and debt advice or speak to our Income team by calling 0800 3 282 282 and selecting option 3. We have dedicated teams that can help with benefit and debt advice and we may be able to help arrange a payment agreement. To pay head to Making a payment.
Alternatively, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk or contact your local citizens advice office for further financial help.