July 2020 View this email in your browser
A message from your Housing team

In order to keep you, your family and all our staff safe we have introduced measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. In line with government guidance the changes to your service are explained below. To keep up to date with service changes please visit www.swindon.gov.uk/coronavirus.

  • Where possible all non-essential home visits will be replaced with a telephone call or email
  • If a home visit is considered essential, you will be asked a series of health related questions before your appointment is considered

Please stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

Important information for Tenants

Your Repairs service

If you need to report an emergency or urgent repair to your home, contact us on 01793 445503 and we will arrange for the repair to be carried out as quickly as possible.

Our teams are working hard to clear the backlog of repairs that were reported prior to lockdown. If you’ve previously reported a repair, you will be contacted by our team to arrange a convenient date and time for the work to be carried out.

We are planning to accept new requests for repairs towards the end of August 2020 and will provide a further update nearer the time.

We are not planning to extend our Repairs service to any households who are showing symptoms of the virus, unless it is for safety reasons. In these cases, special precautionary measures will be put in place to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

To help us protect you and our staff we would ask that you allow us to have unobstructed access to your home, keep your doors open to ensure rooms are properly ventilated and wherever possible, keep a minimum of two metres apart, or one metre plus mitigations. We are expecting repair jobs to take longer to plan and carry out than usual, we would like to thank you for your continued patience during this time.

Make sure to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces

Wearing a face covering is mandatory in enclosed public spaces like shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, transport hubs, hospitals, GP surgeries and on public transport. Please ensure you have fitted your mask before entering any of these settings and keep it on until you leave.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to, please visit the Government website for a full list of exemptions. 

Give your two year old a head start

Your two year old may be entitled to free early education and childcare if you get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

If you would like more information contact Gemma Ferguson on 07812759534.

Five month ban on evictions due to be lifted in August

Since March, court proceedings to evict tenants in England have been on hold. The Government put a stop to landlords starting or continuing eviction proceedings, so tenants were given stability and security during lockdown.

The eviction ban was initially for a period of three months, but the Government later extended it by a further two months to 23 August 2020.

With the news that eviction proceedings will be starting again next month, it is important to ensure that your rent is paid.

If you are struggling to pay your rent, please contact your Housing Officer to discuss the matter as soon as possible. Housing Officers have already supported many tenants to maximise their income. For extra help Housing Officers can also refer you to our dedicated team of Tenant Money Advisors, who are experts in budgeting and claiming benefits, particularly Universal Credit.

You may be eligible for a rebate on your electricity bill

If you are a Utilita customer, you may be able to claim a £140 rebate on your electricity bill if you meet the eligibility criteria. The Utilita Warm Home Discount scheme will open for applications on Wednesday, 5 August 2020 and will close on Wednesday, 12 August 2020. As the discount is allocated on a first come first serve basis, we recommend you apply as soon as the scheme opens.

If you are with another electricity supplier, we expect their Warm Home Discount schemes will start to open from September. Contact the Warm & Safe Wiltshire service on Freephone 0800 038 5722 to see if you qualify.


Get involved in National Scrutiny Week

The National Scrutiny Week, which is being held from 27 July to 31 July, is a chance for tenants and landlords to celebrate the impact of working in partnership to scrutinise services.

This year, Swindon’s independent Tenant Scrutiny Panel are taking part in the national event, which is being coordinated by Tpas. Scrutiny Panel Chair, Phil Matthews, said: “This provides a great opportunity for us to share our good practice with others and to highlight ways of ensuring that all tenants receive the best possible service.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tenant Scrutiny Panel, or how you can join, email emilywebbtsp@outlook.com.

Secure accommodation has been found for rough sleepers

We would like to say a massive thank you to the GW Hotel for helping us to look after rough sleepers during the pandemic. When the lockdown was first announced in late March, 25 rough sleepers (including those at risk of rough sleeping) were given a room at the hotel.

As we begin to get back to normality, secure accommodation has, to date, been found for 14 of the guests and we will continue to look for accommodation for the remaining guests.

Click, Call and Collect service at libraries expanded

A Click, Call and Collect service is now available at our five core libraries, including Central, North Swindon, West Swindon, Highworth and Park libraries.

Customers can reserve books online or by phone before collecting them during the libraries’ opening hours. Books can also be returned during these times. COVID-secure measures will be in place during your visit and you will not be able to access the buildings' other services such as toilets, computers or study areas.

Contribute to this newsletter
Would you like to write an article for Tenant Focus about something happening where you live or to promote something that you feel passionate about? Please let us know by email at getinvolved@swindon.gov.uk

Copyright © 2020 Swindon Borough Council. All rights reserved.

Swindon Borough Council, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1  2JH

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