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WINTER 2011

housing The newsletter for Link tenants

Link wins best practice award at TPAS Conference Link was part of a group of landlords who won the award for ‘Best Practice Initiative – Involving All’ for a new tenancy DVD. At the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Scotland’s annual conference in October. The DVD gives new tenants all the information they need when moving into their new home and was featured in the Summer 2011 Housing News. To view the DVD go to the ‘Tenant Zone’ in www.linkhousing.org.uk or contact the Customer Service Centre (CSC) for a copy. The annual TPAS conference is a great way for staff and tenants to meet others from across Scotland to share ideas and experiences about tenant participation. Tenants who attended the conference were able to participate in workshops on tenant scrutiny, committee skills, recruiting and supporting volunteers, the Scottish Social Housing Charter, and the new Scottish Housing Regulator.

Lisa Gillen, a Link tenant from Oatlands, said: “I really enjoyed the workshops and I feel that I can take some of the information I learned back to the community group I am involved in. I met lots of people and this encouraged me that getting involved with the landlord is a worthwhile thing to do.”

news INSIDE You said, we did

Building new homes

LinkGiving 2011

Janice Conner, Housing Services Manager (middle) collecting the award.

NEW TELEPHONE SERVICE New telephone numbers have been set up to make it easier, and cheaper, for you to call the CSC from a mobile phone. 07757 183553 Text the CSC with a query and we will respond to you within 24 hours. This service is not available for any emergency repairs. 0330 303 0013 Call the CSC for the same price as calling from a landline. Remember, have your tenant reference number handy when you call the CSC – it makes it easier for us to answer your query quicker!

Link Housing – 08451 400 100

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Thanks to all who took part in our customer satisfaction surveys Earlier this year more than 2,600 of Link’s tenants, factored owners and housing applicants took part in four independent satisfaction surveys conducted by IBP consultants. Thank you to those that gave their time to complete survey responses. The surveys provided us with lots of information on what you thought about our services. The surveys were designed to include more about your experiences than a traditional tenant satisfaction survey. This is essential to help us provide the services you want.

What we do well ● Overall design and layout of homes ● Heating systems ● New tenant settling-in visit ● Advice services ● Significant increases from our 2007 survey in the percentage of our tenants who think that their rent represents good value for money and satisfaction with our out-ofhours repairs service

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What we need to do better ● Overall satisfaction with the repairs service ● Improve the CSC telephone service ● Continue to take account of tenants’ views and feedback ● Improve satisfaction with the factoring services ● Awareness among housing applicants of priority passes which are awarded for different housing needs such as homelessness or overcrowding ● Tenants and housing applicants also expressed an interest in further information on housing other than social rent such as mid-market rent or low cost home ownership

GET INVOLVED! DECEMBER 2011 – MARCH 2012 There are a number of tenant participation activities happening over the next few months, including: • Tenant-led inspection • Design guide consultation • Older people’s strategy consultation • Tenant conference • Scrutiny training • Allocations strategy consultation • Tenant participation strategy monitoring and evaluation • Ombudsman complaints consultation Contact Leah Webb on 08451 400 100 or leah.webb@linkhaltd.co.uk for more information.

What we are doing with your feedback In consultation with tenants we have developed an action plan to ensure we respond to the issues raised. ● We are meeting with tenants to discuss improving and planning for the future of the repairs service ● Increasing the availability of appointments for repairs ● Increasing pre and post inspection of repairs ● Increasing staff at the CSC, to reduce the number of missed calls, and providing local call rates www.linkhousing.org.uk

● We will also be revising invoices for owners, owner newsletters, information on the different types of housing we can offer and raising awareness among housing applicants of priority passes The survey has given us an independent insight into what our customers think of our services and we have used this to develop specific actions to improve our services. We will continue to implement these actions over the coming months.


You said, we did Tenant participation and feedback is an essential part of delivering quality services and we would like to let you know what we have been doing with your feedback. YOU SAID

WE DID

Improve how planned maintenance is communicated.

We met with the tenant panel and have made changes based on its feedback. The new planned maintenance schedule will contain more information on what work is being carried out.

Create an appointments system for the repairs service.

Our contractors now make appointments with tenants. There are monthly targets to increase the number of appointments made.

Feedback from the tenant satisfaction survey showed dissatisfaction with some aspects of the repairs service.

Tenants are now involved in discussions about service standards and we are planning a future in-house repairs service.

Increase the numbers of repairs that are ‘fixed first time’.

A manual is being developed for tenants to be able to describe the nature of the repair to Customer Service Centre (CSC) staff. We have set a number of targets to monitor progress.

Improve the voids process (a void is an empty house between tenancies).

We have: • Set standards for re-lets. • Agreed to assess external areas as part of the process. • Improved void target timescales.

Satisfaction with the CSC telephone service has decreased.

A number of changes have been made including: • More staff to reduce the number of calls missed. • New telephone services (see front page).

We would like to be able to speak to someone in the CSC for emergency repairs during winter holidays.

The CSC will be open for calls on 28, 29, and 30 December from 9am to 5pm for emergency repairs calls only.

valuing people, providing homes, building communities, working together

3


ANNUAL GAS SERVICING As your Landlord, we are legally required to carry out an annual service to your gas central heating boiler or fire every 12 months. We carry out these checks because there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to you and your family if your appliance is not regularly serviced. As there will be no gas service checks carried out during festive holidays, a number of service dates has been brought forward to make sure boilers are properly maintained. Link’s appointed gas servicing contractor, Saltire, has a three-stage notification process which starts approximately six weeks before the service is due. If for any reason the dates which are issued to you throughout the three-stage process are unsuitable, it is essential that you contact Saltire to make an alternative arrangement. You can do this by this phoning: 08451 400 100 and selecting option 1, option 3, then option 1. If you do not contact Saltire, Link will send you a final letter (Stage 4) and we may take action to force entry to your property to carry out the service. Please Note: If you have a credit meter (electric or gas), you must ensure you have sufficient credit to allow the service to be carried out. 4

Water Conservation Project

In partnership with four other housing associations, Link is looking for tenant volunteers to participate in a water conservation research project. The project will ask volunteers to test different energy and water efficiency devices which can contribute to help providing household energy and water savings and contribute

towards raising standards throughout Scotland. It is hoped that the project will help reduce energy and water usage whilst providing information for housing maintenance departments on the most effective water efficiency solutions. These will become a requirement of future government regulations. We hope that you would like to be involved in reducing your energy and water usage and we will be looking for volunteers in early 2012. If you are interested in participating in this contact Colin Reid, Energy and Sustainability Officer on 08451 400 100.

GREEN DOG WALKERS Link tenants have been involved in organising Green Dog Walkers schemes in Falkirk and in Paisley. The Green Dog Walkers scheme is a community run project (started originally by Falkirk Council) and has been successful in reducing the levels of dog fouling and promoting responsible dog ownership. Going forward, Link tenants will be involved in the organisation of activities such as hosting stalls at local parks, schools and events where dog owners are encouraged to sign a pledge and wear ‘Green Dog Walkers’ branded dog collars and arm bands to show their support for the initiative. Dog fouling is still an issue for

www.linkhousing.org.uk

tenants in many areas and this is a way for tenants to lead the way in creating a clean and safe local environment. The project has been set up in partnership with tenants, Falkirk Council, Renfrewshire Council and Link’s landscape contractor Enterprise. If you are interested in this scheme for your area please speak to your housing officer.


New Housing Management Computer System We are in the final stages of implementing a new housing management computer system which has been supplied by Aareon UK. This new system will allow us to improve our services and manage our business more efficiently. The plan is for the new system to “go live” during the week beginning 13 February 2012. This may cause some disruption to our services around that time as data is transferred from the current system and staff get to grips with the new one. We will do our best to minimise any delays in responding to your requests and queries but would appreciate your patience and co-operation until our services are back to normal.

Link’s longest serving Tenant Next year, Link will celebrate its 50th year – but Link’s longest serving tenant has lived in the same house since 1953! Mr James ‘Jim’ McKee, originally from Winchburgh, spent his early childhood in Australia before coming back to his home town at the age of 12. When he left school at the age of 14 he cycled to Kirkliston to work in the local garage before being called for service during World War II. Jim spent his war years stationed in the Far East and remembers returning home, “I was de-mobbed in York, and given a suit, shirt, tie, shoes and a soft cap. A taxi driver then offered to drive me to Edinburgh for £9, but I didn’t need it, I had a train ticket that would get me there for free!” Jim moved into his house in Grangemouth with his wife Annie when he worked for BP after the war. When Jim’s manager found out he was getting married to Annie, he called him into his office and asked him to open the drawer of the desk and pick out one set of keys … the keys fitted the door to his new home, which he still lives in to this day. Avon Housing Association looked after Jim’s house until Link Housing Association took it over in 1977.

Craig Sanderson, Link’s Chief Executive with Mr McKee.

Link Housing – 08451 400 100

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LINK BUILDS MORE NEW HOMES Over the past few months 74 properties have been completed and over the next 18 months another 274 properties in a variety of locations will be completed. The majority of these properties will be for rent although there are a number of properties sold through the Shared Ownership and Shared Equity schemes. Shared ownership is a form of low cost ownership that combines ‘renting’ with buying. Shared Equity allows you to buy a part share in a home and the Scottish Government will pay the rest. In addition, we were recently successful in securing funding from the Scottish Government to build a further 193 properties for rent, mid-market rent and shared equity in six local authority areas which will also be completed within the next 18 months.

Recent completions LOCATION

NO. OF UNITS TENURE

COMPLETION

Allander Park, Bearsden

31

Rent

Aug-11

Ewing Way, Larbert

28

Rent

Sep-11

Cherrybank Gardens, Newton Mearns 15

Rent

Nov-11

Rent

Mar-12

TOTAL

74

Projects on site Taig Road, Kirkintilloch

16

Wauchope Square, Edinburgh

58

Dumbarton Road, Dalmuir, Clydebank

38

Rent

Sep-12

Auchinairn Road, Bishopbriggs

38

Rent

Oct-12

Gibb Street, Chapelhall

36

Rent

Oct-12

Lanark Road West

32

Rent

Dec-12

Kirkwood Street, Rutherglen

56

Rent

Jun-13

TOTAL

Rent Aug-12 Shared Ownership Shared Equity

274

Approved projects to start by May 2012

Ewing Way, Larbert (above) and Cherrybank Gardens, Newton Mearns (below).

Colston Road, Bishopbriggs

18

Rent

Sep-12

Ewing Way Phase 2, Larbert

21

Rent

Oct-12

Park Terrace, Brightons, Falkirk

16

Rent

Nov-12

Kirktonfield Road, Neilston

16

Rent

Feb-13

St Mungo’s Gate, Cumbernauld

14

Rent

Feb-13

Ayr Road, Newton Mearns

14

Rent

Mar-13

Greendykes, Edinburgh

28

Rent

Mar-13

Carradale Crescent, Cumbernauld

33

Tannahill, Johnstone

33

TOTAL

6

Rent May-13 Shared Equity Rent

193

valuing people, providing homes, building communities, working together

May-13


TENANT CONSULTATION ON PRINCIPLES FOR DESIGNING NEW HOMES We are updating our design vision for building new homes in our new Design Guide. The main aim of the guide is to develop places where people want to live; places that people can take pride in and places that are safe. The homes we design will also be visually stimulating, usable, affordable, durable, accessible and adaptable. We want our developments to be sustainable and support the diversity of all our tenants. We want to build on the positive impact that good quality new homes provide, producing a richer and more fulfilling environment as well as providing inspiration and opportunities for residents. We held a consultation on the new design guide with the tenant panel in December 2011.

Scottish Social Housing Charter consultation

Link tenants submit a response to the draft Scottish Social Housing Charter consultation Tenants strongly supported the principle of having a Charter that sets out the outcomes that Registered Social Landlords are expected to achieve. The Charter will be used to monitor landlords’ performance and will be a useful tool to assist tenants to hold their landlord to account if there are services that are not performing as well as they should be. The outcomes are in the following categories: participation, communication and customer service, housing quality, repairs, maintenance and improvements, estate management, housing options, access to social housing, homeless people, tenancy sustainment, anti-social behaviour, value for money, rents and service charges, Link Housing – 08451 400 100

transparency and other customers. Overall tenants felt that there were too many outcomes within these categories and most sections could be slimmed down to two or three outcomes instead. They felt some of the outcomes were too aspirational and difficult to deliver in reality, and open to interpretation, therefore confusing. They also discussed that some of the language used needed to be improved as it was vague and difficult to monitor. We plan to discuss with tenants in Spring about how you can be involved in monitoring our performance against the Charter. See www.housingcharter. scotland.gov.uk for up to date information. The new Scottish Housing Regulator will be consulting in the New Year (once the Charter is finalised) on what measures it will use to determine landlords’ performance. See www.scottish housingregulator.gov.uk for more information.

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How did we perform in 2010 – 2011 Every year, all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) are measured against different important performance targets. Repairs completed on time

Average time it took to relet a property (in days) Days 60

40 100% 80%

75.3%

83.8%

89.6%

53

50

27.1

30 20

64.3%

10

60%

0

40%

Quarter 1

Emergency

Urgent

Routine

Minor Routine

(target 3 hours)

(target 2 days)

(target 5 days)

(target 2 days)

20010/11

The graph shows the overall percentages of all contractors performance from April 1 2010 to March 31 2011. In early September 2010, our repairs contractor Connaught went into administration. Interim repair contractors, City Building and Carillion, were put in place between September 2010 and early December 2010 while Link tendered for new permanent contractors. By early December 2010, MITIE (for the East Region) and Morrison (for the West Region) were in place.

Quarter 3

Quarter 4

Once again we were not able to meet our targets due to the change in repairs contractor. However, targets so far for the current year are being exceeded which is extremely positive.

Non-technical arrears 3%

2.88%

2.99%

2.71%

Quarter1

Quarter2

Quarter3

Quarter4

3.0% 2.5% 2.0% 1.5% 1.0% 0.5%

Customer satisfaction with repairs

0.0%

Because of the changes to our repairs contractors, our satisfaction levels dropped to 74.5% during 2010-11 against a target of 95%. It is one of our major priorities to improve this figure and early indication shows that this level has increased during the first half of 2011-12.

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Quarter 2 20010/11

20% 0%

40

35.8

2010/11

We were delighted to achieve our target to reduce the amount of rent arrears (as a percentage of our total rental income). The advice provided by our inhouse Welfare Rights Service to tenants who fall into arrears has contributed to achieving our target.

www.linkhousing.org.uk


Complaints

Rent setting consultation

Between April 1 2010 and March 31 2011, Link received 103 formal complaints with the majority of these relating to the repairs service. Link encourages feedback, either good or bad, and if you would like to make a formal complaint about the service that Link has provided, please view our complaints procedure, which can be found at www.linkhousing.org.uk and by clicking on the ‘Tenants Zone’.

Every April we review the amount of rent we charge our tenants. We need to ensure that we keep up with rising costs and that we manage and maintain our properties to a high standard and put aside enough money to pay for planned and cyclical repairs. The chart below shows a breakdown of how we used every penny in each of our pounds of rental income.

Reserves, 3

37

40

Property Depreciation, 9

Loan Interest, 16

35

21

18

20 15

Routine Maintenance, 19

10

Management, 22

E

ON

5 0

POUN

25

Bad Debts, 1

D

27

30

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Major Repairs, 30

Quarter 4

20010/11

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is due to issue a new complaints-handling model from April 2012. This new model will impact on Link’s complaints handling procedure. Take part in their consultation now at www.spso.org.uk

We are very aware of the increasing financial pressures that tenants face in the current difficult economic climate. We will do everything possible to limit the level of rent increase to that required to meet our financial commitments, and to ensure that rents remain affordable to tenants. This year’s rent increase will be agreed by Link’s Board in January 2012. We would like to hear your views so we can include these in the discussions with the Link Group board. You can send these by letter, email, phoning the Customer Service Centre or by talking to your Housing Officer.

valuing people, providing homes, building communities, working together

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CHANGES TO THE BENEFITS SYSTEM – COULD YOU BE AFFECTED? The UK Government has outlined a number of changes it wants to make to the welfare system. These changes have significant implications for yourself as well as your landlord. If you rely on Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent, you need to be aware of the changes which are being made to how your housing benefit payments will be made and the amount of housing benefit you might be entitled to in the future.

Universal Credit 1. Working Age benefits will be replaced with Universal Credit, with a cap of £350 per week for a single person and £500 per week for couples on the total a household can receive. (Doesn’t apply to households with Disability Living Allowance, Working Tax Credits, War Widows Pension or retired, administered by Social Security Agency.) 2. Housing Benefit will become part of the Universal Credit, which you will receive as a monthly lump sum, in arrears. 3. Under the current system your Housing Benefit can be paid to Link; in the new system this will no longer be the case. It will be included in the Universal Credit and you are responsible for paying your rent to Link. 4. A Housing Benefit cap will be introduced on social rented homes which are under-occupied. For example a couple without children living in a two or three bedroom house could have their benefit restricted based on the size of property they are currently judged to need. The planned change will only apply to working age people claiming benefits and may affect up to 3000 Link tenants. 5. Increased Housing Benefit deductions will be made for claimants who have non-dependant (grown up relatives or lodgers) living with them.

6. The changes will start from October 2013 with the intention of everyone being transferred onto Universal Credit by 2017.

Disability 7. People in receipt of Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance will be reassessed. 8. Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by Personal Independence Payments.

Council Tax 9. Proposals to abolish Council Tax Benefit and localise the social fund. Council tax benefit will be abolished and be replaced by some form of local support. Elements of the discretionary Social fund i.e. Community Care Grants, and Crisis Loans for living expenses, will be replaced by local support (yet to be determined).

Warm Home Discount 10. This is a new benefit of £120 available for qualifying tenants. Call our Welfare Rights Team now to see if you are eligible.

How this will affect you? 1. Benefit reforms will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. 2. An estimated 1 in 5 tenants will see incomes reduced when Universal Credit is introduced. 3. Rates of non-dependant deductions have already increased meaning that a household with a non-dependant on minimum wage for 40 hour per week will lose £48.45 per week in Housing Benefit. 4. If you are in a household deemed too big for you, you may face a cut of on average £11 per week in Housing Benefit.

For information and advice contact the Welfare Rights Team on 01324 417174. 10

www.linkhousing.org.uk


Winter Tips – it’s snow joke! DON’T GIVE FIRE A HOME

WINTER DRIVING

Protect your home from fire over the festive period. Here are a few things you should and should not do:

If you need to travel during bad weather, especially snow and ice, here are a few tips from ForLife Training on how to stay safe.

● Take care when cooking with hot oil ● Never leave lit candles unattended ● Never smoke in bed, keep matches and lighters away from children and make sure that cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully ● Take care when you are tired or have been drinking. Half of all domestic fires happen between 10pm and 8am ● Check all electrical equipment, plugs and cables to ensure they are fit for purpose and have an appropriate fuse ● Don’t leave electrical equipment on when you are out or sleeping ● Don’t overload strip sockets or adaptors and never use more than one adaptor or power strip in each socket There are many other handy tips and interactive tools at www.dontgivefireahome.com including: ● A fire risk scanner ● An electrical load calculator ● Escape planning Your local Fire and Rescue Service can provide information and advice or you can arrange a free Home Safety Visit by phoning your local Fire and Rescue Service, filling out the online form on the Don’t Give Fire a Home website or by texting “Check” to 61611.

COLD WEATHER DAMAGE Over the Winter period your homes are vulnerable to cold weather. Follow these tips to keep your home safe: ● To prevent flooding and waste pipes freezing, check dripping taps and overflows. Report any faults. If you are waiting for repairs to a dripping tap, keep the plug in the sink or bath to prevent water freezing in the waste pipes. Note: there is nothing that can be done about a frozen pipe until it defrosts ● To avoid frozen or burst pipes, keep your house warm day and night by having your heating on low ● Stop draughts by filling in gaps with newspaper, sealing or beading ● Cover your water tank ● Draw your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping If you get a burst pipe: 1. Turn off the water supply at the main stopcock, the electricity supply at the mains and the water heater 2. Turn on all the taps to drain your system. Collect water in the bath/sink for washing and flushing the toilet 3. Warn your neighbours in case it may affect them 4. Telephone Link (or the emergency contractor outside office hours) Link Housing – 08451 400 100

Before setting off on a journey, check that you: ● Always ensure you have enough fuel ● Top up with screen wash to prevent water freezing ● Ensure your car has enough correct Antifreeze etc. ● Wear appropriate footwear for weather conditions ● Use a cigarette lighter or match to warm a key for a frozen lock. Don’t breathe on the lock ● Ensure your tyres are roadworthy Remember the stopping distance is 10 times longer when braking in icy/snowy conditions! Carry the following in case you get snowbound on a journey: ● Warm blankets ● Bottled water and energy snacks ● Mobile phone with fully charged battery ● An old sack or rug (to put under the wheels of the car if you get stuck in ice or snow) ● Torch ● First Aid kit ● De icer ● Tow rope, Jump leads and Warning triangle ● Your breakdown services number & membership details ● Any prescribed medication or equipment in case of being stranded, eg. Asthma Inhaler.

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LinkGiving 2011

Billy Andrew, Director of Operations at Strathcarron Hospice, commented “...it was very well organised and it was the best job we have received from a volunteer group.” Lewis Hunston, Capability Scotland Service Manager, also said: “We were delighted that Link chose to come and help out at the New Trinity Service as part of LinkGiving 2011. Now all we need is for some nice autumn sunshine so that we can enjoy their good work.”

In September, more than 200 Link employees rolled up their sleeves to help out in local communities across central Scotland as part of LinkGiving 2011. The LinkGiving initiative gave staff the opportunity to go the extra mile to help make a difference to the local communities with which Link already works in the day-to-day delivery of its services. The enthusiastic staff teams worked on a diverse range of projects, including:

Here are just a few comments from some of the projects who benefited from LinkGiving 2011:

Craig Sanderson, Link Group Chief Executive, summed up the experience: “I was part of the team who spent the day clearing and digging overgrown shrubs at the New Trinity Centre – and like several others had pains in muscles I never knew I had.”

Barbara Johnstone, Organiser for the Riding for the Disabled at Balerno said: “I cannot believe how hard the team worked. A big thank you to the whole team.”

(Top) Team at Riding for the Disabled, Balerno. (Bottom) Team at Capability Scotland’s New Trinity Service.

● Tidying and improving the garden area at Capability Scotland’s New Trinity Service in Edinburgh

● Redecorating hostels for the homeless in Edinburgh ● Gardening and tidying at a Riding for the Disabled Centre in Balerno ● Cleaning up of a stretch of the Forth & Clyde Canal ● Painting a community centre in Oatlands, Glasgow ● Creating a garden space at the Hayfield Centre, Glasgow ● Decorating rooms at a homeless persons’ accommodation in Edinburgh ● Improving the garden area at Strathcarron Hospice, Falkirk 12

valuing people, providing homes, building communities, working together


New and improved Tenant Zone www.linkhousing.org.uk/tenants-zone The tenant zone on Link’s website has undergone a number of changes to make it easier for you to find the information you need.

Service (TPAS) Scotland Good Practice awards in October. They contain everything you need to know about all aspects of your tenancy from moving in to paying your rent to change of circumstance. In the tenant zone you can also find out about how you can ‘get involved’ with tenant participation and how you can help Link with decision making. You are also able to find out the latest news from Link as well as details on how you can access free and confidential advice on money, benefits, debt and energy issues. Don’t forget you can also report a repair and pay your rent through the tenant zone – just follow these links: http://linkhousing.org.uk/make-a-payment/ http://linkhousing.org.uk/report-a-repair/ Finally, Link has designed its website to be user friendly and accessible to everyone. Users can:

New short films are now available to watch in some sections giving you advice on your tenancy (Flash may be required). These films have been taken from the ‘Welcome to Your New Home’ DVD which Link helped produce with six other RSLs. The DVD recently won “Best Practice Initiative Involving All Award 2011” at the Tenant Participation Advisory

● Listen to the text by clicking on the ‘text-tospeech’ screen reading tool at the top left hand of any page ● Change the size of the text to make it bigger or smaller by using the zoom control ● Adjust the background colour using the text highlight control

‘Like’ Link on Facebook! Do you use social media? Do you have a Facebook page? If you do then why don’t you ‘like’ our new Facebook page when it goes live in the new year! We will use this page to keep you (and others who are interested in Link) up to date on Link’s news as well as providing information on forthcoming training, recruitment opportunities, surveys/ consultations, new developments, money & benefits advice and much more! You can also follow us on Twitter @Link_Group_Ltd Link Housing – 08451 400 100

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CREDIT UNIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER YET? There’s still time for you to join your local credit union! If you join between now and the end of the year and deposit £10.00 into your account, we’ll re-imburse any joining fees and pay back your £10.00. It is a great way to save. Simply join your local credit union between now and Christmas then call the Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100 and give them your credit union membership details.

HOME ENERGY CHECK To find out how much energy you could save in your home, fill out the Energy Saving Trust’s online home energy check at www.energysaving trust.org.uk. Alternatively, call the free phone advice number on 0800 512 012 to receive impartial advice on how to make your home more energy efficient as well as getting advice on any grants you may be eligible for.

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Scotland’s illegal loan sharks under attack Illegal loan sharks who prey on vulnerable people continue to be a problem throughout Scotland, the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit has advised. “We know that many people on low incomes simply cannot access affordable sources of credit and are frequently forced to seek out expensive alternatives such as illegal moneylenders. Often known as loan sharks they claim to be providing a community service, befriending people with debt worries and those in areas of deprivation. Offered an apparent short-term lifeline, their victims are then likely to find themselves faced with extortionate interest www.linkhousing.org.uk

rates or unachievable repayment periods. Illegal lenders will often take security for a loan in the form of a bank card or post office account card, giving clients no access to their own money without the lender’s sayso. The penalty for non payment can be intimidation, violence and even being forced into criminal activities such as drug dealing or prostitution.” Anyone who is a victim of a loan shark, or knows a friend or family member who is affected by their activities can call the Scottish Illegal Money Lending Unit on 0300 555 2222. Calls are completely confidential.


Home contents insurance – are you covered? We realise times are hard, and every penny counts but are you putting your household possessions at risk because you don’t have home contents insurance? Do you think it is too expensive and not for you? What would happen if there was a fire in your home, you were burgled or your home was flooded due to severe weather? If something like this happened to you – could you afford to replace all your furniture or electrical goods, without insurance in place? It is very important that you have home contents insurance in place, especially at this time of year. Insurance premiums needn’t be high, you can choose cover that suits your needs. Some insurance companies are aimed specifically at tenants and they even let you decide when to pay – fortnightly or monthly.

Link tenant Mr Fraser from Airth ‘My home was flooded last year. I have home insurance, so this meant I was able to replace what I had lost and make the house a home again. This was a very stressful time for me and my family as we lost all of our personal possessions and things we rely on every day. I can only imagine if I didn’t have insurance, things would have been much worse, it would have cost me thousands of pounds. My insurance company were great and organised the uplift and clean up of my property really quickly. My advice to tenants would be that Link is not responsible for your home contents, so don’t put it off, do it now or you might regret in later on.’

Need further information? Call Link’s Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100. You can also get information on insurance from price comparison websites and other sources.

Please remember Link is only responsible for the fabric of the building – not the contents of your home.

valuing people, providing homes, building communities, working together

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WINTER HOLIDAY OPENING HOURS All Link offices will be closed 26/27 December 2011 and 2/3 January 2012. A small number of CSC staff will be working on 28, 29 and 30 December from 9am to 5pm to take emergency calls only. The office will not be open to the public, but it will give you the chance to speak to one of our staff during these hours rather than phoning the emergency contractor. If your repair is not an emergency, we would ask that you wait until 4th January 2012 before reporting this to the Customer Service Centre.

Attention all budding artists! We would like you to send in a drawing or painting of your favourite winter scene and you could be in with the chance to win an ipod! Just send your entries to Leah Webb, Tenant Liaison Officer, Watling House, Callendar Business Park, Falkirk, FK1 1XR by Friday 24 February 2012.

TENANT COMMUNICATIONS PANEL Are you interested in media, communications, writing or graphic design? If so, we are looking to establish a tenants communications panel. Contact Leah Webb on 08451 400 100 or leah.webb@linkhaltd.co.uk for information.

Emergency contact numbers For repairs to all new boiler or central heating systems that are LESS than 12 months old call British Gas 0800 107 7009. For any gas central heating repairs call Saltire on 08451 400 100 pressing Option 5.

For other emergency repairs in the East call MITIE 0845 600 8624. For other emergency repairs in the West call Morrisons 01698 403 146. If you experience any problems, contact the Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100.

Link will produce this information on request in Braille, Audio Tape, Large Print and Community Languages. To find out more, please telephone the Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100. Link Housing Association Limited is a company registered in Scotland. Company registration number SC216300. Registered Office: Link House, 2C New Mart Road, Edinburgh EH14 1RL. Part of the Link group. Š LinkGroup Ltd 2011.

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www.linkhousing.org.uk


Tenants Newsletter winter 2011