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e-Housing Issue 33 April 2013 Hello everyone, This latest edition of e-Housing includes: Home Ownership Event, Budgeting advice – make your money go further, anti-social behaviour, bedroom sizes relating to the size criteria, a career in housing – find out about apprenticeships, bogus callers in Walcot, Local Offers refresh, food bank appeal, Housing Sounding Board, Sussex Square regeneration, rough sleeping, flooding – are you prepared? Housing Matters, competition time! Facebook, TASH and dates for your dairy. If you wish to provide any feedback on e-Housing, or you’d like to see other information included, please telephone Sharon Norcliffe tel. 01793 464427 or email: snorcliffe@swindon.gov.uk.

Home Ownership Event – Thursday 18th April, 3.30pm-6.30pm at Central Library, Regent Circus Are you a Council tenant? If so, you could get up to £75,000 off the cost of buying your home. OR Do you have a joint income of less than £60,000 and do not own your own home? Then Shared Ownership could be for you. Want to find out more? Join us at the Home Ownership Event to get practical information and advice, Thursday 18th April, 3.30-6.30pm at Central Library, Regent Circus. For helpful information sheets click on the links: • Right to buy costs click here • Right to buy guide click here • Right to buy step by step guide click here • Right to buy useful contacts click here For more information call: Right to Buy 01793 464414 or Shared Ownership 01793 464397.

Budgeting advice – making your money go further To manage your money you need to plan a budget to work out what you can afford to pay. • Work out your income and check for ways to increase it List your regular income from wages, benefits etc. Make sure it covers the same period so you are clear how much is available (i.e. all weekly or all monthly). Only include income you can rely on – only include overtime if it is regular. To increase your income check whether you are entitled to benefits/tax credits, do you have adults living in the home who could help? Do you have a spare room you could let to a lodger? Get your tax code checked out to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax. • Work out your expenditure and look for ways to save money List all regular payments and work them out either weekly or monthly. Look at your list and see where you can make savings, there might be some obvious areas. There are plenty of other ways to try and cut back your expenditure such as: entertainment, food, transport, insurance and utility bills.


• Prioritise your debts and take control of your money If you are no longer able to pay all of your creditors (the people you borrow from/owe money to), you need to seek debt advice and contact your creditors. Debt Advice agencies may advise you to stop creditors taking money from your account automatically. This means cancelling direct debits and standing orders for payments that are not a priority. Swindon Borough Council relies on you fully paying all the Rent and Council Tax that is due. If following the benefit changes you are having difficulties in paying both Rent and Council Tax, then our advice is to seek some budget planning advice. To view a Budgeting leaflet click here and for a Budgeting Sheet click here. If you have concerns about paying your rent, or require further assistance in budgeting or debts contact Housing 01793 445503.

Do you have problems with anti-social behaviour where you live? If you are having issues with noise relating to your council property; noisy neighbours, children running through hi-rise blocks creating a disturbance, loud music etc., then in the first instance you should contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer. Your Housing Officer will then be in a position to investigate and resolve the case. Some cases may require partnership working with other teams, in unusual noise complaints i.e. noisy cockerels, Housing are then likely to use the specialist teams of Environmental Health and StreetSmart to resolves those cases. To contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer tel: 01793 445503 or visit the SBC website.

How bedroom sizes relate to the size criteria and statutory overcrowding. Housing have been receiving enquiries from some tenants affected by the bedroom size regulations claiming that their ‘box room is not big enough to be a bedroom’ and quoting Section 326, 1985 Housing Act. The size regulations that they are quoting are used to calculate the permitted number for a whole property, which is printed on your rent card, and whether the dwelling is overcrowded. In making this calculation living rooms and dining rooms usually count as well. The regulations are not designed or intended to assess just ‘one’ room. Although a tenant may argue that a room can only accommodate one person or less, the whole property may be a sufficient size. These regulations have no bearing on the Welfare Reform Act rules. For further information on the subject click here or contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer on 01793 445503.

Interested in a career in Housing? An apprenticeship could be for you!! We are now recruiting first year apprentices to start September 2013. Get paid work experience in our busy Housing Service while achieving qualifications in; CIH and NVQ Level 2. Are you? Enthusiastic self-motivated good communicator discreet professional team player and hardworking. You’ll need... GCSE English and Maths Grade C (above or equivalent).


Vacancies for the 2013/14 schemes will be advertised on www.swindon.gov.uk and National Apprenticeship website www.apprenticeships.org.uk in the next few weeks. Interested? Email: ApprenticeRecruitment@swindon.gov.uk or phone 01793 464440.

Bogus callers in Walcot At the beginning of April, two men claiming to be from Swindon Borough Council (SBC) called to the property of an elderly resident in the Walcot area. One man was dressed in a suit, the other was in work clothes, they had ID badges and had arrived in a white van, they told the resident they were there on a call out to look at a broken radiator. They asked the resident when she “wouldn’t be home” which really aroused the family’s concerns. Fortunately, the resident’s adult daughter was with her mother at the time. SBC have NO record of anyone being tasked to attend a call out at this address so suspect this may have been an attempt at a distraction burglary. If SBC send an employee/contractor to your address, you will receive a letter in the post notifying you of the appointment. When an employee/contractor comes to your home they should always show you their SBC ID badges – do not let anyone in your home without first seeing the badge. If you have any concerns then phone 01793 445503 to verify the call out is genuine or phone 101 to report the incident to the police.

Local Offers refresh – have your say! The establishment of Local Offers (Service Standards) was a requirement of the Localism Act and during 2011, we developed Local Offers in Swindon by asking tenants and leaseholders to tell us their priorities for Housing Services and listening to what was important to them. We have been monitoring these Local Offers (Service Standards) and reporting back how we have been doing to tenants each year through the Annual Report. We want to make sure that Local Offers are still relevant to tenants and reflect current priorities. We are refreshing our existing Local Offers. If you would like to have your say then visit our online survey by clicking here. Alternatively, contact John Saunders for a paper version tel: 01793 464446 or email: jsaunders3@swindon.gov.uk. As a thank you for completing our Local Offers refresh survey, we will automatically enter your name into a prize draw to win one of six £20 vouchers. Make sure you get your comments back to us by 30th April 2013 If you would like to know more about our local offers or wish to be more involved please contact Arlene Griffin Head of Business Development by email: agriffin@swindon.gov.uk or tel: 01793 464387.

Food bank appeal Cockram Court is holding a food bank appeal. If you would like to donate any food then please make sure all items are non-perishable, so no fresh veg or fruit, ideally tinned or bottled foodstuffs. Take your donations along to Cockram court where you will find a cardboard box to leave your donations. The tenants of Cockram Court are being very generous.


Cockram Court, Medgbury Road, Swindon SN1 or telephone 01793 693528.

Could you be the 500th member of the Housing Sounding Board and win a prize? Join the Housing Sounding Board (HSB) today, and have your say …. in a way that suits you! If you only have limited time, but would like to give your views on the Housing Service – then the Housing Sounding Board is just right for you! You can hear about opportunities available on a regular basis, and take part in any that interest you. Ways to get involved require minimal time commitment from HSB members. Join today by:  Telephoning: Housing Participation Team on 01793 463673  Emailing: getinvolved@swindon.gov.uk  Texting: 07769 281 643

Sussex Square regeneration scheme A number of options for new housing and some retail units have been explored for the site. Some of the proposals have included the redevelopment of the industrial units on Seymour Road. Local Councillors are keen to consult local people on these proposals and plans are underway to do this, click here to see the proposed layout of the scheme. The plans feature a convenience store and attached smaller retail units (including a community space) on the corner of Queens Drive and Somerville Road (the old Bulldog site), with new housing on the site of Sussex Square and some of the industrial units along Seymour Road. The intention is to consult local residents on their views on the proposals Spring 2013. Residents will be notified as soon as a date and venue has been confirmed. The proposed layout of the scheme can be viewed at www.swindon.gov.uk/sussexsquareredevelopment Any further queries can be sent to: Tony Currivan, Senior Design Architect, Swindon Borough Council or email: tcurrivan@swindon.go.uk.

Do you know of anyone rough sleeping? Homelessness is much more than providing a roof over people’s heads and often homeless people will have complex underlying problems that can be made worse by living rough or in insecure accommodation. This is why Swindon Borough Council and our partners are working together to improve the housing, health and support options to people who have no home or place to stay. To enable us to understand local issues, we are asking you, the community, for help in identifying anyone in your local area who is sleeping out at night. This could be in a tent in the local park, squatting in a garage, sleeping behind the community hall or in a car park. To report a rough sleeper please visit www.roughsleeperhelp.co.uk or alternatively you can call 0800 917 7765.

Flooding - are you prepared?


Have you been flooded or at risk of flooding? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then the following information will be useful. • Click here for an ‘Are you ready’ brochure and create a household emergency plan •

Ensure that you know your property’s risk of flooding click here or call Floodline tel: 0845 988 1188

Check your contents insurance policy to confirm you are covered for flooding and to check you have not underestimated the value of your home contents. SBC has an arrangement with RSA (Royal and Sun Assurance plc), who can provide contents insurance for tenants. For information to apply for or claim on RSA contents insurance please visit or email housing@swindon.gov.uk or tel: 01793 464657.

More information can be found on the Council’s website

Housing Matters Housing Matters, the quarterly magazine for tenants and leaseholders will be dropping through your letter box from next week. The magazine is packed with useful information, competitions, events that are planned and stories that we hope you will find interesting. For a sneak preview click here. If you have not received your copy by the end of the month, then please let me know Sharon Norcliffe tel: 01793 464427 or email: snorcliffe@swindon.gov.uk.

Competition Time! Look out for competitions in the forthcoming Housing Matters. ‘Love Where You Live’ They say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, so this summer we’re asking you to get out there with your cameras, paintbrushes, watercolours, oils, crayons, felt tips, coloured pencils etc., to capture an image of what it is that you really ‘love’ and feel proud about the area where you live. What’s more, there are some great prizes on offer for the winning entries and a chance for others to enjoy your work. So, whether you’re 6 or 60, we’d love to see what you can do! Good Neighbour Awards 2013 • Do you know someone who is an unsung hero in your community? • Should someone you know be recognised and rewarded for their good works? This is your opportunity to show that person how much they are valued, by nominating them for one of the Good Neighbour Awards – either The Caring Neighbour or The Community Neighbour. Tenant Garden Competition 2013 If you are a tenant of Swindon Borough Council and you have a lovely garden, or are particularly clever with hanging baskets or tubs – this is the competition for you. There are four categories, and a child’s ‘grow the best sunflower’ category (with two age groups). For more information contact: • Paul Wilkins tel: 01793 46 3677 or email: pwilkins@swindon.gov.uk • Shelley Slater tel: 01793 46 3673 or email: sslater@swindon.gov.uk


Have you had a look at our new Housing Facebook page? We now have a new Housing Facebook page it contains additional features such as a Terms and Conditions page and a Useful Contact Details page. You can still have your say; make comments, compliments and complaints and the site will still be facilitated by the two current administrators. There will also be more involvement from Housing Officers, who will respond directly to posts relating to the services they manage. •

To get notifications ‘Like’ the page (Liked with a Tick) and then select "get notifications" you will then get them when members post.

If you have any queries or would like more information then please contact Sharon Norcliffe tel: 01793 464427 or email: snorcliffe@swindon.gov.uk. Facebook successes • As a result of our tenants posting mould and condensation issues on the Housing Facebook site, the Council have recruited a Handyperson to enable the Repairs Team to respond more effectively to mould and condensation concerns. If you would like to report a mould and condensation complaint or to report any other repair please telephone 01793 445503 or to report a repair click here. •

After posting the News Alert for Walcot concerning an elderly resident and distraction burglars, the news was shared with 21,680 facebook members.

If you have any concerns then phone 01793 445503 to verify the call out is genuine or phone 101 to report the incident to the police.

Temporary vice Chair for Tenants’ Association for Sheltered Housing (TASH) Members of TASH have appointed Graham Overbury from Markham Place as the temporary Vice Chair. Graham will also take up the vacant place available on Housing Advisory Forum (HAF). The group is currently undertaking its annual membership review to reconfirm existing Elected Representatives and Observer Members, alongside recruiting new members into either role. Once this process is complete, the Chair and Vice Chair for the group will be confirmed at the AGM on 10th June. The Tenants' Association for Sheltered Housing (TASH): a group of tenants who live in the sheltered housing schemes managed by Swindon Borough Council. For more information contact Shelley Slater email: sslater@swindon.gov.uk or tel: 01793 463673.

Dates for your diary..... Event Home Ownership Event

Date and time Thursday 18th April, 3.30-6.30pm

Location Central Library, Regent Circus

TASH

29th April, 2-4.30pm

Committee Room 6

STV

Saturday 18th May, 9.30am-

TBC


e-Housing issue 33