We hope that you are keeping as well as possible as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Please be assured that as your landlord, Barnet Homes is doing everything in its power to keep delivering a complete service to you. As the country enters a second lockdown period, we would like to take this opportunity to update you about our services, and the support available to you.
We will follow all the latest government guidance to keep you and the people in our communities safe. Our staff and contractors will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while in your homes and in communal areas, and follow social distancing practices. In line with current guidance, staff may not be wearing PPE when working outside. We have also re-aligned our customer-facing teams so that they are working in ‘bubbles’. This will reduce the risk of infection, and enable us to continue delivering a service even if some staff are required to self-isolate.
If you are self-isolating or symptomatic, and we have a visit to your home planned, please contact us so that we can rearrange it. If you are a person in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category, as defined by the government, you are advised to stay at home at all times, unless for exercise or doctors’ appointments – information about these additional guidelines can be found at gov.uk/coronavirus. Barnet Council can also provide additional support – read the ‘Supporting you’ section of this letter for contact details.
The majority of our services are operating as usual, but we can provide some service-specific updates which you may find useful. We will also be updating our website, barnethomes.org, regularly with service status.
- Customer Contact Team: We have expanded our Customer Contact Team so that they can respond to your calls and emails more quickly and effectively. Monday and Tuesday are our busiest days, so if your call is not urgent, you may be able to speak to someone more quickly towards the end of the week. The Customer Contact Team have the technology to work remotely, so will be able to respond to your calls even during the lockdown period.
- Repairs and gas servicing: Our new in-house services will continue to deliver repairs and gas servicing to residents. As is often the case at this time of the year, we have recorded an increase in issues with residents’ gas boilers, so we have adapted our services to meet these demands. Annual gas safety checks will continue as planned. Provided residents are not self-isolating or showing any symptoms of COVID-19, our operatives will continue to work following the latest government guidelines, ensuring the safety of both staff and residents. If you are self-isolating or have symptoms, please contact us so that we can rearrange your repair or gas service.
- Property Services: As with our repairs and gas services, we will continue to carry out work in your homes where it is safe to do so.
- Estate Services: At present, our Estate Services Team (including caretakers, bulk refuse and grounds maintenance) is running a full service across Barnet. They will wear appropriate PPE when working in communal areas, and we will change their working patterns so that they are not in communal areas during the busiest times (i.e. the morning school run). Our caretakers will be focusing on cleaning communal areas to keep them COVID-safe.
With people at home more often, there has been an increase in levels of fly-tipping in Barnet. We are committed to keeping our estates as clean and tidy as possible, and need your help to achieve this. Please dispose of any rubbish considerately, using the bins provided. If you have bulk items which cannot be placed in bins, we ask that you dispose of them correctly. More information about disposing of bulky items can be found at barnet.gov.uk/recycling. If you see any fly-tipping taking place, please report it to us on 020 8080 6587. Our Environmental Services teams are also patrolling known hot-spots to keep on top of any potential fly-tipping.
Anti-social behaviour (ASB)
With more of us at home more often now, it’s important to keep your neighbours in mind. Whether that’s waiting until the afternoon to do noisy activities like hoovering, or making sure your TV or stereo are at a reasonable level, we can all do our bit to help keep our communities peaceful. For guidance on how you can work with your neighbours to resolve ASB, and the conditions where we can step in, please visit barnethomes.org/anti-social-behaviour.
If you see people sleeping rough, we urge you to contact StreetLink. StreetLink is a 24/7 website, mobile app and phone line, which allows you to send an alert about the location of someone sleeping rough. They will then pass this information to the relevant local services so they can try to find and connect the person with support. This can be done by visiting streetlink.org.uk, downloading the StreetLink app or calling 0300 500 0914. Our Rough Sleeper Team will also be out in the borough to ensure the wellbeing of those who are sleeping rough.
If you, or someone you know is self-isolating or symptomatic during this lockdown period, support is available for them. Barnet Council is working with the Barnet Together partnership, and a task force of charities, faith groups and businesses to support vulnerable residents. The Community Help Hub provides a network of local support that will help our communities remain resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes food banks and support for adults, children and families. To find out more, visit engage.barnet.gov.uk/communityhelphub or call 080 8281 3210.
Barnet Homes will do everything we can to support our tenants who find it difficult to pay their rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any concerns about your ability to pay your rent, please call us on 020 8610 3538. We will continue to support our residents with help regarding benefits and maximising their income.
If you have access to online/telephone banking, you can set up a bank standing order or make payments by bank transfer. If you would like to pay by bank standing order or bank transfer, you will need our bank details. These are as follows: Sort code: 60-23-36 – Account number: 82622833
You can pay by using the automated telephone payment line on 0845 356 3456 (select option 2 for housing rent). This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also pay online at barnet.gov.uk or at barnethomes.org. For these payment methods, you will need to quote your nine-digit rent account number when making payment. If you are unable to pay your rent using any of the above methods and would like to discuss other ways to pay your rent, please contact 020 8610 3538.
Leaseholder service charge and mortgage payments
If you require assistance with your service charge payments, please call us to discuss your concerns on 020 8080 6587. Please do not stop or cancel payment arrangements without discussing your situation with us first. If you are going to struggle to make any other monthly credit repayments you should contact your lender direct as soon as possible.
Your health and wellbeing
If you or anyone you know needs urgent support, please call Barnet Council’s urgent support line on 080 8281 3210. The line is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday or Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm. They will be able to connect those needing help with support groups in their area, and offer advice.
Over the past few months, people in the UK have changed their ways of living substantially. It is crucial to look after your mental health at this time. Here are some services which Barnet Homes residents can make use of:
- Samaritans works to make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs someone to talk to. Call 116 123 or visit samaritans.org
- The Barnet Wellbeing Hub focuses on supporting your mental and physical health. Call 0333 344 9088 or visit barnetwellbeing.org.uk/covid-19
- Barnet Voice for Mental Health – peer support for adults who are struggling with their mental health. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 020 3475 1307 or visit inclusionbarnet.org.uk.
There is no excuse for domestic abuse. If you are a victim, if you feel at risk, or if you are concerned about a friend, relative or neighbour, call us. You can also call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Always call 999 in an emergency. More information is available on our website.
Financial, work and training support
If you are struggling financially, there are some benefits you may be able to apply for. These include pension credit, to top up a low income, housing benefit, to support you with rent costs, council tax support if you are struggling to afford your council tax, or attendance allowance if you need help with poor mobility or other disability.
There are also some discretionary funds you may be able to get if you have historic or ongoing financial problems. You can apply to the crisis fund which can help pay for a one-off item in an emergency, a discretionary housing payment if you have rent arrears, or council tax discretionary relief if you have council tax debts. You can also apply for Council tax Support if you are on a low income or benefits.
Unemployment: together, we will work it out
BOOST has supported over 3,000 people and helped more than 1,000 into work. We can help you with updating your CV, accessing training courses, finding the right career, interview practice and the team have lots of live job vacancies too. All our services are free of charge and open to any Barnet resident regardless of age or location.
Have you been made unemployed since March 2020?
JETS is a brand new scheme for people made unemployed during lockdown and claiming Universal Credit for at least 13 weeks. Specialist one-to-one help is available to find work and get training. To find out if you are eligible and get on the programme email email@example.com or ask your Jobcentre Work Coach to tell you about JETS
Benefit advice – could you get more income?
Are you getting all the benefits you’re entitled to? Do you need help to make a claim? BOOST can check if you’re on the right benefits, help make claims and appeals and help you to access short-term grants such as Discretionary Housing Payments.
Make It Click – build your digital skills
Technology doesn’t have to be difficult. Through their online webinars, the BOOST team will help you with everything digital until it clicks. Do you or someone you know need help with the internet? Make It Click is a website with free tools, courses and templates which helps you to learn new skills or improve the skills you already have.
Contacting BOOST – for all the above