CHA News Crosby Housing Association newsletter for tenants
New Rent Payment Choices for Tenants Crosby Housing Association tenants now have more ways to make rent payments. The new facilities enable you to make payments in whatever way suits you best. The choice is yours. Inside this Issue
Home Energy Switch
Charity Shop News
CHART Mental Health Awareness
We’ve teamed up with national payment service, AllPay, to enable payments by Direct Debit, online, by smartphone, by telephone, or by cash at PayPoint and Post Office outlets.
See the “How to Make a Payment” leaflet enclosed with this newsletter. If you need another copy, contact our office or visit www.crosbyhousing.org.uk 1
Welfare Reform latest news Each newsletter we provide you with some more information regarding Welfare Reform, how it may affect you and the impact on CHA. It is now over a year since the Under Occupation Charge, â€˜Bedroom Taxâ€™, was introduced. For many tenants across the UK this reduced the housing benefit where their homes were deemed to have more bedrooms than needed for the people living there. We continue to work in different ways with our tenants who are faced with a reduction in their housing benefit. This includes assisting tenants to move to smaller homes, or support them when applying for Discretionary Housing Payments. More recently we have liaised with Housing Benefits to claim refunds for tenants who were incorrectly assessed as having to pay the charge and although this loophole has now closed we will work with any tenant who is struggling. Contact the office and we will help. Do we know how many children live at home?
Do we have your national insurance number?
We are now preparing for the introduction of Universal Credit and we need information from CHA tenants to help us. Universal Credit will combine several welfare benefit payments including Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit payments and be paid directly to tenants monthly in arrears. As well as introducing a range of new ways in which you can pay your rent, we are updating the information we hold about CHA tenants, ensuring that it is accurate and comprehensive. All we ask is that you contact the office and we will run through a few questions with you to ensure our records are up to date. Please help us to help you ! 2
Energy Switch In the last edition of the newsletter we told you about a free service that may help you to benefit from lower energy bills. The service is called My Home Energy Switch and is promoted by the National Housing Federation. The service is free to use and could save you money every week on your fuel bills. Take up of the service has been disappointingly low so we are taking the opportunity to remind tenants of the details of the scheme.
Please take a moment to read through the enclosed leaflet and remember it costs you nothing but could save you money each week.
Property works programme
To get in touch: Call us on 0151 920 7300
We will be holding a meeting in May/ June to discuss the planned works programme for our properties and we would like as many tenants as possible to join us at the meeting. Please get in touch with the office to let us know if you are interested and we will contact you nearer the time with details of the time and place of the meeting.
Visit us at www.crosbyhousing.org.uk Email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us @crosbyhousing Call in at 10 Church Road, Waterloo
Charity Shop news Hi Everyone, It’s Stephanie the manager from the charity shop. I have just celebrated my 8th year as manager and currently have an amazing team of staff who have been working hard over the past few weeks to get all our summer stock out. So please come in and see if you can find your ultimate dress or shorts for the summer. There is also a range of men’s summer wear, so get those legs out lads and step into a pair of our summer shorts! We are always in need of clothes, shoes, books, CD’s and bric-a-brac. The continued support the community shows us is fantastic and we can’t thank you enough for your donations and support. On Sunday 27th April myself, Teresa and Hannah are taking part in an 8km walk beside the seaside to raise funds for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. Anyone can take part and it starts at 12 noon. If you would like to sponsor us please call into the shop or office as all donations will be hugely appreciated. Or, you can text COIN69 plus your amount to 70070 or donate online at www.justgiving.com/crosbyhousinggirls
Easter is coming fast so with that thought of business and chocolate in mind I have put together a collection of Easter yolks for you to eggjoy! What happened to the egg when it was tickled too much? It Cracked Up! What do you call a bunny with a large brain? An egghead! What do you call ten rabbits marching backwards? A receding hairline! Why couldn’t the Easter Egg family watch Sky TV? Because their cable was scrambled! 4
Performance up to 31.12.13
Are we on target?
Properties with an up to date gas certificate (235/235)
Emergency repairs completed within target time (105/105)
Urgent repairs completed within target time (201/201)
Routine repairs completed within target time (1799/1809)
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Repairs that were completed right first time – based on TSS responses (response rate is 29.81 %)
Tenants satisfied with the repairs service (return rate is 29.81%)
Local Offer performance update 31.12.13 1 Your Home Offer
2 Tenant Involvement & Empowerment Offer Customer Service - In response to the Welfare Reform agenda and in advance of the introduction of Universal Credit, the Association is introducing new methods for tenants to pay rent. From April 2014 we will introduce a Direct Debit facility, a payment method using a tenants credit /debit card over the phone, computer, or tablet device and a payment method using a dedicated Allpay card which will facilitate cash payments in a range of high street shops. Tenant Involvement - We have held several events over the last 9 months including the Annual Open Meeting, TAP meetings, and the annual Business Planning event took place in January 2014. The Association recognises that there is much room for improvement in how we involve and engage with you, our tenants, and the need to review and refresh both the Tenant Advisory Panel TAP) and Scrutiny Panel groups. This will be a priority for 2014. 3 Tenancy Offer One bedroom properties - The number applicants on the waiting list is now over 100. The number of properties becoming vacant is approximately 15 a year and the Association is concerned that maintaining an “open” waiting list may give false hope that accommodation will be available. Therefore, it has been decided that no new applications will be accepted on to the waiting list until a we have carried out a full review of the existing applications and of our Allocations policy. 2/3 bedroom properties - We are experiencing some challenges letting these properties advertised via the Property Pool Plus system. Several potential tenants when contacted to offer a viewing had either been rehoused or did not want the area. This has been raised with PPP who are ensuring that the system is updated as promptly as possible. Average time it took to re-let empty properties
4 Neighbourhood and Communities Offer Communal services - The provision of gardening, window cleaning and communal cleaning is currently being reviewed. Tenders are to be invited for a revised specification. We will provide you with information about the new communal services contracts and arrangements as soon as possible. Partnership working - The association is represented at the Merseyside Welfare Reform Group and although primarily concerned with issues within the Liverpool area it is hoped to share the best practice examples with a wider cohort. This has included recommendations to HB for shortened DHP applications, promotion of a variety of payment methods, increased partnership working with Credit Unions and the need for accurate and up to date profiling data. An initial discussion prompted by CHA with both HB and OVH to develop a similar forum for the Sefton area will be pursued. 5 Neighbourhood Offer In the nine months up to 31 December 2013 47 reports/complaints of Anti- Social Behaviour were received, all of which were responded to within the target time of 5 days. Analysis of the spread of cases reveals that 12 reports related to incidents in Seaforth (26%), 24 in Waterloo (51%), 8 in Litherland (17%), and 3 in Bootle (6%). The majority of incidents, 27 cases (57%), were complaints regarding noise; others reports/complaints were related to tenant behaviour, behaviour of visitors, pets and rubbish. There were also 6 incidents of drug related ASB which have been resolved and the cases closed following liaison with other agencies. 5
Rent Increases Many annual rent increases take effect in April. Remember if you claim Housing Benefit and it is paid directly to you it is important that you take your notification letter to Sefton Plus at the One Stop Shop 324-342 Stanley Road Bootle. If you pay by Standing Order, please contact the office to ensure you amend your standing order by the correct amount. Or perhaps change to Direct Debit See the enclosed leaflet â€˜How to Make a Paymentâ€™ for new ways to pay your rent. If you have any questions regarding your rent please contact the office. We are happy to help.
Communal Services We always try to ensure that the services that we provide are efficient, effective and provide value for money. To do this we have developed a monitoring regime to ensure that the works are carried out and ask that tenants return a quarterly satisfaction questionnaire to identify any issues. Unfortunately the rate of return of these questionnaires is very low and we remind all tenants to please give feedback so that we can improve the service. We are also currently undertaking a review of each of the services and will invite tenders for these works in the near future. If you would like to be involved in the process please contact the office, we would welcome your input. 6
Board Members Crosby Housing Association has recently undertaken a recruitment drive to increase the membership and skills of the Board. 3 prospective new members have joined the board for a trial period up to the summer. Watch this space for more details.
Peggy Celebrates her 100th Birthday CHA tenant Peggy Cummins celebrated her 100th birthday in January. Familiar faces from the staff of CHA joined her to mark the occasion. Peggy received a card from the Queen and a telegram from Iain Duncan Smith. Many happy returns Peggy from all at CHA.
Tom’s Mission To Malawi CHART manager Tom Massey has been supporting his chosen charity ActionAid for a while now. Recently though he decided it was time “to do something more hands on”. In September of this year, Tom is travelling to Malawi to visit the communities and see at first hand the work ActionAid does with local people and how they work in partnership with other organisations.
Tom will keep us up to date with his progress throughout the year but if you would like to donate to help Tom’s cause please visit: www.justgiving.com/actionaid (Tom Massey support ref number: 6463799) Text Kilk to 70070 7
CHART chill out for Mental Health Awareness Week Mental Health Awareness Week 2014 will take place 12th to 18th May. This year's theme is Anxiety. The aim of the week is to address anxiety as a public health issue, and promote ways to reduce anxiety in everyday life. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. However, what can begin as normal, everyday anxiety, can develop into something more serious such as a panic, phobia, or obsessional disorder. Evidence shows that the number of cases of anxiety is growing in the UK with 8.2 million people diagnosed in 2010. There are ways we can all manage anxiety before it seriously harms our well-being.
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. 1 in 6 a neurotic disorder such as anxiety or depression. These figures have steadily increased over the past 20 years.
Members of the CHA CHART team have been thinking about what they can do to help themselves and to raise awareness of anxiety for Mental Health Awareness Week. Colm will keep active by going for a stroll around the par k each lunchtime and tr y to eat a bit healthier, e.g. more fruit. Karen will try to practise daily the meditation techniques she has recently learned from attending a Mindfulness course. Michelle will invite some of her friends she has not seen for a while for a get together and have a good catch up with them. What will you do? Here are some suggestions: 1. Keep active 2. Talk about your feelings 3. Eat well 4. Drink sensibly 5. Ask for help 6. Take a break 7. Accept who you are 8. Care for others www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved 8
Titanic Captain lived in Waterloo Lee Mattocks, CHA tenant and board member, has been busy again researching the local history of our area. Lee’s photograph (right) shows 17 Marine Crescent, Waterloo. The blue plaque on the wall tells us that a past resident of the house was Edward John Smith, Captain of the ill-fated transatlantic cruise ship Titanic. Smith lived with his wife and daughter at 17 Marine Crescent between 1898 and 1907. The Titanic sank on 15th April 1912 after hitting an iceberg. More than 1500 crew and passengers were killed; there were an estimated 705 survivors. Captain Edward Smith did not survive the disaster. The current owner of the Captain’s house in Marine Crescent, Rose Gallagher, has written an interesting book ‘The Captain, Titanic and Me’. The book is available locally priced £5.00.
Waterloo Community Centre is now running a Community Kitchen. They are open for business starting 24th April 2014. They will be serving lunch every Thursday from 12 noon to 1.30pm
They provide a two course lunch costing £3.00 Waterloo Community Centre is located at the Old School Building, Gt Georges Road, Waterloo L22 1RD If you would like to know more please call 07845351965 or email email@example.com 9
Tenant Conference 2014 This year we are again looking for CHA tenants who would like to attend the annual North West tenants’ conference. The event is being held at the Village Hotel in Warrington on Wednesday 9th July. CHA will provide transport to and from the venue and lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the day. The event always proves to be very popular so if you are interested in attending please contact the office as soon as possible.
Friends of Waterloo Seafront Gardens News from the Friends of Waterloo Seafront Gardens: The team are finally putting the finishing touches on a bid for heritage lottery funding for a year’s programme of gathering and presenting memories and historical information about the gardens over the past 80 years.
We are now writing the script for the “Destination Waterloo” video and preparing for filming to start in the spring.
We have been researching into the powers we have under the covenants but more importantly powers from a legal “undertaking” made in 1968 between the Council and residents along the front, whereby the Council accepts that the seafront area from Great Georges Rd to Mariners Road, is officially recognised as a “designated area” under 1906 legislation.
The summer festival takes place on the 20th September. We will be linking with the annual scarecrow festival. We are now looking for volunteers to run all the games and stalls we plan, and for a local friendly band. Please contact us if you are interested. 10
CAP - Christians Against Poverty Debt charity, CAP, has warned that families are falling into rent arrears because of widescale changes in the benefit system, and in particular the ‘bedroom tax’. CAP has reported that 1 in 10 of its new clients has been struggling to pay off a housing benefit overpayment since the introduction of the spare room subsidy a year ago. Families who have turned to CAP in the past 12 months had an average debt of £1,613 solely through housing benefit overpayment; 1/3 had rent arrears; and 4 out of 10 had council tax arrears. Mandy and Mo met with CAP to see how they can support CHA tenants and give practical advice in money management. Their next local money management course is at Kingsway Christian Fellowship, Church Road, Waterloo starting Thursday 1st May 2014 at 6.00pm.
Contact Joan Bayley 0151 920 5111 Or join online at https://capuk.org/ CAP have a drop in session where they provide tea, toast and a friendly chat. Why not call in and see if they can help you? Matt Barlow, CAP's Chief Executive, speaking to T he Independent: ”Unless you have experienced it yourself, I think most of us don't imagine that the welfare changes regularly affect the same group of people several times over – and they can be the most vulnerable.”
Goodbye to Paul Many of you will know Paul Heery who recently left CHA as Housing Services Manager. We all send Paul our best wishes for the future.
Bank Holiday office closures The CHA Office is closed for Easter and May Bank Holidays on the dates highlighted in RED below.
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Out-of-hours Emergency Repair Service 0845 057 7096 If you would like this document in another language or format, or if you require the service of an interpreter, please contact us.
CROSBY HOUSING ASSOCIATION
Office Address 10 Church Road, Waterloo, Liverpool L22 5NB Tel. 0151 920 7300 Fax 0151 949 0717 email firstname.lastname@example.org