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SFHA briefing notes produced to help sector through Covid-19 crisis

Blog by Lorna Wilson, SFHA Head of Policy and Innovation

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One of the ways SFHA has responded to the coronavirus crisis is by producing a series of briefing notes that focus on different effects of the outbreak or key areas of work for social landlords. 

We took the decision to make these available to all, rather than just our membership, in order to help the whole of the social housing sector through the pandemic.   

We have created 10 briefing notes as follows: 

Service Delivery  

This briefing explores and gives advice on dealing with the effects of the pandemic on social landlords’ services. It looks at managing staff and delivering essential services to tenants as well as providing information on social distancing.

The briefing also includes some practical tools, including communication templates, a sample authentication letter and framework to support registered social landlords in decision-making on key worker status.

Health and Safety  

This briefing covers Health Protection Scotland advice and personal protective equipment guidance. 

It also explores and gives advice on areas of social landlords’ work impacted by the outbreak, including carrying out checks and repairs, including gas safety; essential visits – engaging with tenants; close cleaning; when to deep clean a property; tenant safety in communal areas; fire safety; and housing support services. 

Practical Governance Advice  

This briefing focuses on the challenges experienced by governing bodies as a result of the crisis.  

It explores how to hold governing body meetings, ensure business continuity, and deliver on legal/regulatory obligations. 

The briefing also includes a business continuity update template 

Care and Support 

This briefing focuses on guidance regarding social or community care and residential settings, personal protective equipment, telecare service continuity, tackling domestic abuse, staff in non-healthcare settings, shielding support and contacts, care at home, housing support and sheltered housing, and first responders. 

It also explores Covid-19 care and support news and help that’s available for tenants. 

Social security and Universal Credit  

This briefing explores how social security, and particularly Universal Credit, have been impacted by the pandemic and the effects on individuals as well as social landlords.  

It also looks at action taken by the UK Government and the energy industry. 

The briefing also details useful sources of support. 

Freedom of Information  

This briefing explores the impact of coronavirus on social landlords’ Freedom of Information processes.  

It details changes to timescales, lists sources of guidance and information and includes a template letter for when timeframes for requests cannot be met. 

Combating Isolation  

This briefing explores one of the most challenging effects of the coronavirus crisis – isolation.  

It contains information on Scottish Government advice on staying at home and the effects of social isolation.  

It also looks at available tools to combat isolation, how to support the vulnerable, services introduced by housing association services as well as their wider business services.  

The briefing also details what action SFHA is taking for members.  

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act: Extension of Notice Periods  

This briefing explores the new Coronavirus (Scotland) Act and how it affects social landlords.  

It looks at Scottish Secure tenancies, short Scottish secure tenancies, private residential tenancies (mid-market rent), errors in notices, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and duration, amendments and reporting requirements. 

Humanitarian Community Resilience  

This briefing explores how SFHA members have responded to the crisis and details how they have provided emergency help for those worst affected by coronavirus, food and medicine within communities, as well as tenant wellbeing calls. It also looks at the communication methods they have used. 

The briefing also details funding, wider community services, and helpful resources. 

Finance 

This briefing focuses on SFHA asks of lenders as well as concerns that we’ve raised with the Scottish Government.  

It details submission date changes and flexibilities requested of Scottish Housing Regulator, SHR guidance for boards on AGMs, audited accounts etc., new SHR monthly return, and a data collection which SFHA will be introducing in due course.  

It also provides helpful guidance in the form of assumptions for scenario planning as well as detail on the government support available to housing associations, furloughing, changes to off-payroll working rules – IR35, and our rents position 

All of the briefing documents can be viewed online, and there is also the option to download them as PDFs. 

Starting in this week’s Housing Scotland Weekly e-newsletter, we will also have a series of blogs on each briefing which explore the key issues in more detail. 

Our policy staff are continuing to update the briefings as circumstances change and more information becomes available. 

If you would like a new briefing, or have any feedback on the published briefings, please contact enquiries@sfha.co.uk 

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