Coronavirus update for customers

Over recent weeks, government advice around social distancing has meant that we have had to stop some of the services we normally carry out. Now that the government is starting to ease some of these restrictions, we are looking at the best way to reintroduce services while ensuring that you and our people stay safe.

Having assessed the risk to you and to our colleagues and in light of current government guidance, there are a number of services that we intend to get back up and running over the coming weeks.

We’re now able to carry out estate inspections and our neighbourhood officers will begin to visit estates to carry out this work.

Since starting to let our homes again, we have re-let over 130 homes. Our lettings team is using technology to conduct virtual tours and give new customers the chance to view their homes.

We’ve already resumed a number of safety inspections, including fire risk assessments and asbestos surveys and in just the past week we’ve carried out 876 routine gas safety checks. It’s vital these inspections are completed to ensure our homes remain safe places to live so it’s really important that you allow our colleagues access so that they can carry out these essential safety checks.

If we are due to visit your home, please let us know before we arrive if you are self-isolating or otherwise affected by coronavirus by calling us on 0333 400 8222.

We’ve also made some changes to our repairs service which is outlined in the section below.

We will continue to monitor government’s advice and hope to reinstate more of our services over the coming weeks and months when it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, we’ve created an overview of how we plan to get our services back up and running in our three stage approach to recovery which you might find useful. We will be regularly reviewing this approach in line with government restrictions being lifted and our own risk assessments.

Our three staged approach to turning services back on 

REPAIRS

Since the government introduced restrictions in March, we have carried out an essential repair only service within our homes. During this time, we’ve continued to log all other repairs reported to us, but understandably we now have a significant backlog of repairs which will take us some time to clear.

As the risk levels reduce, we plan to resume repairs in phases. We have already restarted repairs in external and communal areas. From 15 June we will carry out urgent repairs in your home, like lights that aren’t working, or security issues with external doors or windows, as well as continuing with any emergency and essential repairs.

Then from the end of June, we’ll begin to work through the backlog of repairs. We have risk assessed each repair reported both before and during the lockdown and prioritised the repairs. High priority jobs will be carried out first, for example we’ll prioritise a window repair or faulty extractor fan over a damaged bath panel or internal door repair. Therefore, it may take longer to complete your repair than normal.

If you have reported a repair recently, we will contact you nearer the time to arrange an appointment for the work to be carried out.

In the meantime, if you need to report a repair please call our contact centre on 0333 400 8222 or visit MyAster. If you haven’t yet signed up to our online portal, it only takes a minute and gives you 24/7 access to your account at the touch of a button.

As we reintroduce our services our people will be following strict hand hygiene, wearing face coverings where appropriate, sanitising areas they touch and wiping down any tools they use. They will be following strict social distancing guidance and we ask that you stay at least two metres away from our colleagues at all times.

If we are due to carry out an emergency repair in your home, it’s important that you let us know before we arrive if you are self-isolating or otherwise affected by coronavirus by calling us on 0333 400 8222.

If you think something in your home needs repairing it might be something that you can easily diagnose and fix.  Check out our Advice Hub for some handy tips.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO YOU

We understand that you may be concerned about your finances, especially at the moment, but please be reassured we will work to help you as much as we can. 

We have created an advice page to answer some of the questions you may have and we have a dedicated team of highly skilled people who are available to support you.

Our Financial Wellbeing and Customer Accounts teams are ready to help as much as they can, and we would encourage you to talk to us about your financial situation if you are worried. 

We have a money advice tool that can help you to budget for rent and other charges, food and utilities.  The Department for Work and Pensions has issued guidance about claiming support through Universal Credit. You can also visit our website pages for advice about Universal Credit, the government’s 80% pay furlough scheme and guidance if you are self-employed.

The Quids In! magazine, which we provide free to our customers, has updated its website to offer a host of money advice, tips and support.

Our Into Work and Financial Wellbeing services are available should you need them and our teams can support you through this period by helping you access work opportunities or offer help with managing your money. 

We’re working hard to make sure we don’t add to your worries at this time and ask that you keep in touch with us about your situation. If you are concerned about paying your rent or other charges, please call us on 0333 400 8222.        

EXTRA CARE AND SHELTERED SCHEMES

We have carefully considered the latest government guidance around restrictions within our independent living schemes and at the moment we are not making any changes.

So, for now, given the current guidance for at risk groups, all of our extra care and sheltered schemes remain closed to non-essential visitors and the internal communal areas are no longer available for residents to use. For more information please see our Coronavirus advice for Extra Care schemes page.

The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is as always, our priority and we are led by the government and our risk assessment. We will keep the measures under constant review and adapt as the situation changes.

We are doing all we can to ensure that our most vulnerable customers continue to receive the services they need, whilst following the measures outlined by government to protect our customers and colleagues.

For more information please see our 

CORONAVIRUS ADVICE FOR EXTRA CARE SCHEMES

CONTACTING ASTER

Until further notice our offices remain closed to customers. Our Neighbourhood Officers will be out and about as normal conducting estate inspections, but we would ask that any contact with them is made by phone.

Our teams are here to help you. Our contact centre remains open and you can still reach us by calling 0333 400 8222 or by visiting using  using our contact form

HEALTH ADVICE

If you feel unwell and have any of the symptoms of coronavirus – fever, cough, muscle pains – please follow the Government’s updated advice on the precautions you need to take if you become ill. 

WE ARE HERE

Whilst the environment around us is uncertain, please be reassured that we have over 1,400 caring, compassionate and dedicated people who will do their very best to continue to provide you with essential core services.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to play our part in limiting the further spread of coronavirus. 

USEFUL LINKS

RISK ASSESSMENT

Our high level risk assessment provides an overview of the controls we have in place to help keep our people and customers safe. This document is updated and reviewed on a weekly basis. Click here to read more.

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