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Guide to Restarting Services updated to reflect progression to Phase 2

By Cassandra Dove, SFHA Research Adviser. 

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Following the launch of our Guide to Restarting Services on Wednesday 10 June, we would like to make you aware of some important updates and confirm that version two of the document is now available on the SFHA website. 

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement on 18 June 2020, which confirmed the progression to Phase 2 of the overall route map, there have now been further updates to the guidance for the construction industry (22 Jun 2020) and the guidance on moving home (23 June 2020). Some of the key points from these updates, which are of relevance to the Guide to Restarting Services are highlighted below. 

Phase 2 route map updates:  

  • Indoor office workplaces are not yet permitted to open, although limited access to undertake preparatory work can continue. 

  • Home working and remote support for tenants is to remain the default position, however, an exception has now been made for visiting to provide support to Housing First tenants.

  • Phase 2 saw a further progression of the Construction Re-start Plan from Monday 22 June (see updates to guidance for the construction industry), 

  • Specific projects, such as area-based energy-efficiency schemes, can also resume as of Friday 19 June. 

  • A relaxation on restrictions around house moves will be implemented from Monday 29 June. 

Guidance for the construction industry: 

  • The Scottish Government updated its guidance for the construction industry on 11 June, and again on 22 June, highlighting the move towards Phase 2 and 3 of the construction sector re-start plan.  

  • While both Phase 2 and 3 of the re-start plan allow a measured and controlled resumption of non-essential work, including domestic housing, this should only commence in cases where physical distancing can be maintained. 

  • The CICV Forum have also published guidance on Work to be carried out in people’s homes. This information will be reviewed and updated, following any further guidance from the Scottish Government. 

Guidance on moving home: 

  • The guidance on moving home was updated on 23 June 2020 and indicated that, from 29 June 2020, all home moves are permitted, provided they can be carried out safely. 

  • While the Guide to Restarting Services did not specifically cover home moves or allocations, the home moving guidance includes general Advice to businesses which includes a section on Tradespeople and well as specific guidance on Home moves in the social and private rented sector which is of relevance. 

  • Amongst other practical advice, the guidance states that landlords are to give appropriate notice to tenants before any visits, and they should not enter the property without the tenant’s consent, except in an emergency situation 

  • It also states that any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing. 

  • Some guidance on essential repairs, gas and electrical safety checks and energy performance assessments is also provided, highlighting that these “should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in”.  

  • Where occupied visits are required, it is noted that “this should be done by appointment, with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example, with residents staying in another room during the visit”. 

  • With regards to safety inspections, it states that “landlords should make every effort to abide by gas safety requirements” and follow the current HSE guidance.  

  • However, it also provides some further guidance on electrical and other fuel safety requirements stating that “unless there is evidence of existing defects or concerns about individual properties, routine electrical safety inspections should not be carried out until at least Phase 3 of theroute map.”. 

Further updates are expected in due course, and we will continue to work with the Scottish Government to provide as much clarity as possible for our members as we progress through the recovery phases.  

In the meantime, we have made the following changes to Guide to Restarting Services: 

  • Update to office re-opening example route map (p5) 

  • Inclusion of update to Phase 2 guidance (p17) 

  • Update to guidance for construction industry and link to re-start plan added (p17) 

  • Update to tenant services example route map (p19) 

  • CICV Forum links added (p20) 

We would like to re-iterate that the example route maps, included on pages 5 and 19, are not official guidance. Social landlords will develop their own route maps, taking account of local circumstances, such as tenant and community profiles, housing stock types, and supply chains, as well as the specific circumstances of each service request or visit. Some elements of the route maps have, therefore, been updated to reflect this with the ‘possible’ activities indicating cases where there may be a gradual resumption of non-essential services. This does not mean that all services should resume immediately, and social landlords should continue to adopt a risk-based approach to identify and prioritise permitted work until a fully operational service resumes in Phase 4. It is vital that every job and potential risk is judged on its own merits with health and safety and welfare being the primary concerns.   

We recognise that resuming repairs, maintenance and development work is a complex issue, and while the guide offers some thoughts on things to consider, it cannot provide specific guidance on every scenario and prescribe the detail on which types of repairs/maintenance work should be prioritised given variations in landlords’ service delivery models and local circumstances. The Scottish Government has now, however, provided some specific guidance on particular cases like routine electrical inspections as mentioned previously. 

Going forward, there may be a demand for completely new reactive repair models, for example, in order to minimise the number of visits to tenant properties. We will, therefore, be hosting a workshop on this topic and producing additional resources on addressing repairs/maintenance backlogs, dealing with tenant anxieties around repairs/maintenance work and longer-term service re-design options

We will continue to update the document in line with any new guidance issued by the Scottish Government and notify of you of any further updates.

Please refer to our website and our COVID-19 briefing page for access to the live document and for detail of any revisions. 

 

 

 

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